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Newport News Shipbuilding, United Steelworkers Union go back to bargaining table

Two months ago, USW Local 8888 members rejected a proposed new collective bargaining agreement after voting on it.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Negotiators for Newport News Shipbuilding and its largest labor union will meet this week to resume contract talks.

The return to bargaining table on Thursday comes two months after members of United Steelworkers Union Local 8888 rejected a proposed 60-month collective bargaining agreement by a vote of 1,312 to 684.

"Our members have consistently come back to us and said they want more," said union spokesman Dwight Kirk.

In a social media post, heading into this new round of talks, Local 8888 said it is "optimistic but realistic." 

"Neither side gets all of what it wants in negotiations," Kirk said. "That's not how that works. So, we want to go in with what we want and we want what to be realistic in terms of what we can get for a fair deal that will meet the demands of our members."

Local 8888 represents 12,000 of the shipyard's 25,000 employees. The union wants higher wages, Veterans Day to be a company-paid holiday, and for employees to be treated like "essential workers."

13News Now reached out to the shipyard's parent company, Huntington Ingalls Industries, but so far, we have not received a response.

In November, following the union's vote to reject the most recent contract offer, the company in a statement said:  "We pride ourselves with having a long, constructive relationship with our labor partners, and are disappointed that union members voted against a contract that would continue to provide fair and competitive wage and benefit packages to our shipbuilders."

Newport News Shipbuilding is Virginia's largest industrial employer. 

It is the world's only maker of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and it's one of two shipyards in the Untied States that builds nuclear-powered submarines.

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