NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP/WVEC) - A steelworkers' union that represents nearly 10,000 workers at the Newport News shipyard has reached a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement.

United Steelworkers Local 8888 said Sunday morning that the deal with Huntington Ingalls Industries - the parent company of Newport News Shipbuilding - will increase wages, improve pensions and contain health care costs.

Arnold Outlaw, United Steelworkers Local 8888 President, said it was a hard fight.

"Relieved," said Outlaw. "That’s what we are right now. We’re relieved."

13News Now obtained a copy of the tentative contract. Workers will receive an immediate 1.5 percent wage increase. In 2018, wages will increase 2.6 percent. In 2019 and 2020, wages will increase another 3 percent each.

The agreement also shows insurance premiums will roll back to 2016 rates at the beginning of 2018 and future insurance premium increases will be capped at 5 percent.

"You always want higher wages, you want your benefits to go up higher, you want your pensions to go up higher," said Outlaw. "These are things that if we didn’t have contracts they would stay the same which is not really what we want to do. We always want to do better."

The new deal, if approved by the rank-and-file, will last until November 2021. Outlaw says the union workers are expected to ratify the contract Thursday. The current contract was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

When asked for comment, Huntington Ingalls Industries sent 13News Now this statement:

"Newport News Shipbuilding has provided its final offer to the United Steelworkers as part of negotiations to establish a new contract that would be effective on Monday, July 10. We have reached a tentative agreement with the union leadership, and we are confident that union members will recognize our offer as one that is fair and benefits everyone involved. We commend all who were involved in the negotiation process. It can be challenging to develop a contract proposal that balances the needs of our union workforce with the company’s desire to maintain flexibility and stability in a competitive business environment, and this offer does that."

The United Steelworkers Local 8888 represents 9,700 workers at the shipyard.

Newport News Shipbuilding, which builds aircraft carriers and submarines, employs about 20,000 people and is Virginia's largest industrial employer.