Union Workers Across the Coast Unite For Higher Wages - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Union Workers Across the Coast Unite For Higher Wages

As the morning wind whips signs on the picket line, union brothers at Northrop Grumman are still standing firm. On Day nine of the strike, Ingalls workers were joined by fellow union members from Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi yards.

"It's a brotherhood. It doesn't matter if you're a painter, a glazer, a pipefitter, an electrician. It's the same thing. We all make a living by our hands. So it's unity, that's why I'm here," painter Oscar Hernandez says.

Hernandez currently works at the Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans, but came to the yard to visit during this "Solidarity Day." He and other union members stood side by side with Ingalls workers to show support, even though they build ships at yards nearly 100 miles apart.

The biggest difference between the members is that the visitors are still working. They voted to accept the same contract Ingalls workers rejected.

"It was easy for the workers at Avondale to ratify their contract because they were bringing them up to the Pascagoula yard. Whereas the offer at Pascagoula was very, very small," president of the New Orleans Metal Trades Council Bruce Williams says.  

But members didn't just come to Pascagoula to support their fellow union brothers and sisters. That's because the yards operate under what's called a "me-too agreement." If one yard gets a raise, they all do.

"We're going to do everything in our power to help achieve that goal," Williams says.  

That goal could benefit thousands of workers, beyond the ones currently striking at Ingalls. Northrop Grumman has told union leaders they're ready to talk. And workers like Tony Elliott say they're ready for their leaders to head back to the negotiating table.

"Talk, whether it does anything or not. Somebody's going to give sooner or later," Elliot says.  

By Keli Rabon

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