Northrop Grumman, Unions Strike A Deal On New Contract

Just days ago, Local Union #733 said no to Northrop Grumman's contract.  Now, union members are hashing out the details of a new Northrop Grumman offer.

"We made it clear to the company that was not acceptable to our members, the money was a fair amount of money, but not for the time that they wanted us to accumulate it, and the healthcare cost was more than we expected or wanted," Business Manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Jim Couch says.

About 90 percent of union workers across the 14 organizations voted down that four year agreement. That overwhelming response sent company officials and union leaders back to the table.

Like this sign, Couch says tough times don't last, but tough people do. That's why he and union leaders stuck to their demands in Saturday's meeting. The result is an offer he says was much better for his members.

"We got the three year agreement, we got the money our members asked for, and we got the healthcare cost reduced," Couch says.

Here's a look at the numbers:

  • This contract will last three years. Shorter contracts are better for workers because the sooner they can re-evaluate pay scales, the better for their pocket.
  • The pay raise will stay the same as suggested before. The difference is this will be paid on 12 month cycles instead of 16. That means money more quickly.
  • Northrop Grumman also reduced health care premiums.  The cost will still rise about 30 percent during the next three years, but workers will save $300.

But even with this new deal, Couch says if only one union shoots it down, a strike is the next option.

"Nobody wins in a strike, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. There's always something out there you'd like to have. But the idea is to walk away with something you can live with," Couch says.

His union votes Tuesday. That gives Couch just a few days to convince members that compromise is key.

Unions in the Pascagoula Metal Trade Council will be voting Wednesday at a variety of locations. For now, work at the shipyard will continue as normal. And the current contract that governs employees is being temporarily extended on a day to day basis.