Jackson County

Ingalls is racking up major contracts, and shipyard workers are banking on a raise

David Caillavet, with the Pipefitters Local 436, casts his vote Tuesday morning on whether to approve a contract extension with Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula.
David Caillavet, with the Pipefitters Local 436, casts his vote Tuesday morning on whether to approve a contract extension with Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula. klnelson@sunherald.com

While Ingalls shipyard and Huntington Ingalls Industries are racking up major contracts, the skilled work force voted to pass another contract extension.

Mike Crawley, president of the Metal Trades Council that represents most of the unions at the yard, said workers voted Tuesday and the extension “overwhelmingly” passed.

It will be the fourth extension since the 2007 strike that shut down work at the yard for 28 days.

Essentially the workers are still under the contract hammered out during the strike. The unions have negotiated the extensions that address raises, bonuses and health insurance costs for a two-, a three- and now a four-year interval.

This four-year extension would include two $2,500 bonuses and three annual raises from 2019 through 2021. Health insurance costs would stay the same.

“In today’s competitive business environment, it is extremely important to foster a collaborative and cooperative partnership between management and labor to provide the best working environment for our shipbuilders,” said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias.

“This contract extension does that. It also rewards our employees for their role in Ingalls’ success and positions us competitively for future shipbuilding competitions.”

There are about 12,000 workers at the yard. Between 7,000 to 8,000 of them are skilled craftsmen who will benefit from the contract extension the unions negotiated. Many of them are Hispanic workers who have been brought to Pascagoula in recent years.

Only Ingalls workers who are in unions were able to vote on the contract extension.

Ingalls shipyard is the state’s largest employer.

Jim Murray, a second-shift electrician, said the terms offered in the extension, are “nothing great, but it’s better than nothing. They’re not taking away from our insurance.

“It’s positive,” Murray said. “In today’s society, it could be worse.”

Pull outs from the contract extension:

  • Sign in bonus of $2,500 in two weeks
  • Another $2,500 bonus in March
  • Raises: 2019, 2.5 percent at 65 cents; 2020, 2.5 percent at 67 cents and 2021, 3 percent at 82 cents (for journeymen, which are 70 percent of the work force. Apprentices get a percentage of those raises.)
  • Second shift premium up from 80 cents to $1 an hour (for working 2:30 to 11 p.m.)
  • Health insurance costs remain same for three years
  • 12 paid holidays
  • Two weeks off at Christmas, six of the days with pay
  • The company will develop an employee recognition program
  • Call-in vacation days, up to three days, is still an option
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