Northrop Grumman Workers Entering Third Week on Strike at Pascagoula Shipyard
The strike at Mississippi's largest private employer, Northrop Grumman's Pascagoula Shipyard, is now entering its third week with no realistic hope of quick resolution. The strike, affecting all unions in the yard except office personnel has slowed work at the Mississippi facility noticeably. Yesterday, the two sides met under the guidance (and encouragement) of a federal mediator. MarEx contacted Northrup Grumman spokesman Bill Glenn in the wake of that meeting and he said, "The Company and Unions met yesterday. No progress was made. No future meetings have been scheduled." Ron Ault, the National Metal Trades Department (MTD) President, echoed those sentiments by saying, "We expect the company to improve its offer if they expect to settle this thing." But Ault also left the door open to future meetings, if the company sweetens the offer currently on the table.
Picketing commenced at the Northrop Grumman shipyard in Pascagoula on March 8th with the majority of local labor unions represented at the shipyard’s main entrance. A statement released by the Pascagoula Metal Trades Department (AFL-CIO) on their Web site said, "Members of the Pascagoula Metal Trades Council--comprised of 11 craft unions representing 6,700 workers at the Northrop Grumman Ship Systems yard at Ingalls--have rejected a proposed contract settlement with Northrop Grumman by an overwhelming margin. Ingalls workers have been working under a contract extension since their previous agreement expired on March 4th. This is the second rejection vote by the Council in this round of negotiations."
Strikers are demanding a new contract, with specific concerns revolving around high insurance costs and inadequate salary offers from Northrup Grumman, according to the MTD’s Ron Ault. Last week Ault stated, "The frustrations of the region are now coming out. These people have been abandoned by their government. It’s getting a little better here, but the response from the government has been terrible." Ault also maintains that every strike he has been involved in over the past 8 or 10 years has involved the cost of health care. "This one is no different," he said.
Ault maintains that the strike has virtually shut down the shipyard, but that assessment is at least partially in dispute. A confidential source close to operations within the shipyard told MarEx late on Thursday, "By mid-week, almost 200 workers were at the shipyard, performing normal duties. That number is growing daily." These numbers did not include management personnel, he said. Last week at this time Ault told MarEx, "Although it is fairly early, our solidarity has been amazing. There are 400+ non-union workers at the yard, but only about 100 had elected to cross the picket lines." Northrup Grumman’s shipbuilding work primarily involves government contracts.