Northrop Grumman President Philip Teel Meets With Striking Union Workers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Northrop Grumman President Philip Teel Meets With Striking Union Workers

Sheet Metal worker Paul Ezell says he was totally shocked to see his boss, Northrop Grumman President Philip Teel, walk on to the picket line Wednesday morning.

"It was around 6:30 or 7:00 this morning, Mr. Teel came out. Nobody knew he was coming, it was a surprise. He just came up," Ezell said.

But Ezell says he didn't give his boss a warm welcome. and neither did many other picketers. Ezell says the cold reception was due to Teel's inability to provide concrete answers on a future proposal.

"All we got is the same run around. 'We are crunching numbers. We are trying to redo everything.' Nothing new, no changes."

As the strike enters the third week, talks with union leaders and company officials have yielded little progress.

On Tuesday, both parties met with a federal mediator in hopes of getting shipbuilders back to work. After the three hour meeting, no contract offer was made. Instead, the discussion focused on non-economic issues.

"They should have discussed what we were asking for and come to a solution, not how to reconstruct the shipyard to make it better. They can do that once we get back to work," striking worker Perry Bozeman said.

Bozeman didn't make it to the picket line in time to vent his frustrations in person, but that didn't stop him sending a message to Teel. 

"I hope Phil Teel thinks about his employees who are ready to go back to work. He needs to come to a decision and give us a offer," Bozeman said. 

Many workers say that offer is simple: more money and lower health insurance.

"I feel that we are not going to accept anything less than two dollars, one dollar, one dollar. Because I know this company can afford it," striking worker Tyrest Cumbuset said.

Until those numbers show up on a new contract, these workers say they will not be building ships.

"As long as it takes. One month, two months, three months, six months, we are in it for the long run."

On March 31, the company will stop paying the insurance bill for striking workers.

Northrop Grumman spokesperson Bill Glenn says the company has not scheduled any talks with union leaders at this time.

By Patrice Clark

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