Ingalls Workers To Vote On New Contract Wednesday

Thousands of striking workers at Northrop Grumman could be back on the job this week. Wednesday, all 14 unions will vote on a new three year contract with the shipbuilder.

The terms of the new contract were negotiated Tuesday as company officials and union leaders met with a federal mediator. Under the proposed contract, wages would increase $1.68 in the first year, and 55 cents in second and third years.

For family health insurance, the coverage is similar to the last contract. The per month employee cost is $151 in the first year, $177 in the second year, and $194 in the third year. There is no single coverage. Click here for complete contract details.

Union leaders told WLOX they were pleased with the negotiations.

Mike Crawley, president of the Pascagoula Metal Trades Council, said in the statement from Northrop Grumman, that the new proposal "reflects changes made in response to employee concerns, as expressed in their votes on those previous proposals."

"We believe this agreement addresses the entire range of concerns from the members and their families and we're recommending a yes vote," Metal Trades Department President Ron Ault said.

Under the new plan, the annual average wage would increase from $38,106 to $43,888, and vacation days would increase for workers with one to four years experience.

"This contract provides a very fair financial offer that comprises a competitive wage and benefits package," said Philip Teel, president of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. "This proposal meets current and future employees' needs based on the current and potential economics of the Gulf Coast region while staying within a cost structure that is in line with our customer and shareholder requirements."

Union members rejected the company's first offer 26 days ago, and have been walking the picket line since. Reaction among striking workers was mixed Tuesday as word spread about what the new contract offered.

Tony Sigerst hasn't missed a day on the picket line. He says he'll vote for the new contract.

"Every little bit helps, this is as good as any, and I don't know what else to say. They gave us this little bit and maybe we will go back to work soon. I hope everybody accepts the new contract, that way I will be able to pay my child support," Tony Sigerst said.

"I do not like the contract," Mary Wells said. "We have been laboring too hard to give us anything and take anything they offer us because they think our bills are due. But God is the source of everything and God is going to see us through."

After 34 years at the shipyard, Wells says she's not ready to give in. She plans to vote "no" on this deal.

"Please do not take this contract. They are fooling us, and when you go back to work, you will see. And you will see the company is fooling us," Wells said.

The unions will begin voting on the new contract Wednesday morning at 10am.