Strike Imminent For Northrop Grumman Union Workers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Strike Imminent For Northrop Grumman Union Workers

The votes are in and a strike is near. The first union from Northrop Grumman voted Tuesday on a new contract that promised better wages and reduced health care. Those promises weren't enough to satisfy the nearly 800 members that voted it down.

Keli Rabon talked to union members who say they're not just upset with their employer's latest deal, they're angry with union leaders.

"Strike, strike, strike!" workers chanted outside the National Guard Armory in Pascagoula Tuesday night.

That's only a preview of what you can expect to see the next few days. A whopping 88 percent of union members voted Tuesday to reject the latest Northrop Grumman deal, 772 to 105. Instead of just blaming the company, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers say their union leadership is to blame this time.

"That union ain't doing nothing but lying to us. We paying them, they act like they paying us. On behalf of 35, you see this contract? It's ripped in half. That's what we think. One more time, I'll rip it again," union member Kenny Hamilton says.

"I honestly think the company's got them paid on this. If it wasn't, then they'd be feeling the same way we're feeling," union member Richard Keel said.  

Instead of these workers seeing better wages, they think their money is going elsewhere.

"They're getting it under the table. They not out there building ships, we are.  They not out there getting dirty, we are," union member Latrece Owens says.

When asked if they want to change the union leadership, Owens said, "We don't want to, we are going to." 

Workers say until they get more money and better benefits, they won't approve a contract. Right now, they only have medical insurance, not dental or vision. Until their needs are met, these union members only have one thing in mind.

"I'm willing to strike. I'm willing to strike for however long it takes, four months or whatever. We will do whatever it takes for the company to understand this is not acceptable from the company," Keel says.

Northrop Grumman officials declined to comment on Tuesday night's voting results. They say they will wait until Tuesday's voting is done. A strike could begin as early as Wednesday. If the IBW union gets approval from their headquarters. Otherwise, they will wait on the other unions to vote. The remaining unions will begin to vote at 4 am.

By Keli Rabon

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