Effects Of Union Strike Felt In The Community - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Effects Of Union Strike Felt In The Community

When Benji Alford came home to find a man rustling through the storm debris outside his home, he was caught off guard.

"He was grabbing metal stuff, he grabbed a bike, some metal pipes," Alford says.  

After questioning the man, Alford found out the reason behind his actions.

"He was like, since the strike, I've had problems making ends meet with my family and I've found getting scrap metal out of people's trash helps me make some extra income while we're going through the strike," recalls Alford.

 Alford says this chance encounter has made him realize that this strike extends well beyond the picket line.

"It really struck me and it really angered me that this guy had to go to such desperate measures to make ends meet," Alford says.

For the past 10 days, union members at Ingalls shipyard have marched the picket line, holding up signs with their demands. Workers rejected two Northrop Grumman contracts, saying they want higher wages and better healthcare. Alford says he doesn't have any ties to the yard, but that he now sympathizes with picketers more than ever.

"He was a painter and he was reduced to finding metal to feed his family," Alford says.  

Many strikers say they've picked up second jobs, taking turns at the picket line, and utilizing their trades and skills on the side. Alford says he respects the people who are willing to take a stand.

"They are ultimately trying to make a better life for themselves, and you can't blame anyone for that," Alford says.  

Union leaders are expected to meet on Monday to discuss their member's top priorities for a new contract.

By Keli Rabon       

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