Members Of USW Local 8888 Ratify New Contract That Bucks National Trend On Workers' Health Care Costs
Long-term Pact with Owner of Newport News Shipbuilding Passes by 9 to 1 Margin
PITTSBURGH, March 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) Local 8888 in Newport News, Va., overwhelmingly ratified a new collective bargaining agreement this morning. The 52-month contract with Huntington Ingalls Industries, the parent company of Newport News Shipbuilding, passed by an overwhelming 9 to 1 margin. It covers some 11,000 employees.
The pact delivers wage increases of 14.2 percent on average; contains over $16,400 in new money per worker over the life of the agreement – not counting overtime and other wage additives; reduces employees' health care insurance premiums by 15 percent; increases the minimum monthly pension benefit from $1,350 to $1,450 on August 1, 2013 and then to $1,550 on August 1, 2015; and, bolsters promotional opportunities and increases personal leave time for employees.
USW International Vice President Fred Redmond, who was Local 8888's chief negotiator, said what the union accomplished at the bargaining table was even more remarkable in the volatile political climate of sequester budget cuts and the pending expiration of the temporary measure that funds federal agencies, including the Department of Navy.
"At times it got rough, but we stayed on course, stuck to our members' priorities and navigated to a place that created a win-win situation for our union and the company," said Redmond.
At a time when more and more employers are demanding increases in deductibles, coinsurance and employee premium sharing, which shift costs to employees, the Steelworkers bucked that trend. Perhaps, the signature victory for USW Local 8888 was that the bargaining team demanded and won a 15 percent reduction in health care premiums. Moreover, future employee health care premiums will be adjusted to account for differences in premium payments and the contractual 25 percent employee share of health care costs.
USW Local 8888 President Arnold Outlaw said, "Our members really like this. They wanted a real pay raise that wasn't going to be eaten up by higher health care costs. Fortunately, we found a way to accomplish that."
USW Local 8888 members are proud to claim that they work in the only shipyard in the U.S. capable of building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and one of only two shipyards capable of building nuclear-powered submarines for the U.S. Navy. They also maintain, repair and refuel nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and subs for the Navy.
The USW represents about 850,000 workers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glassmaking to mining, steel, oil, paper, tire and rubber to the public sector, service and health care industries.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)