NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — After rejecting an initial agreement in November 2021, United Steelworkers Local 8888 and Huntington Ingalls Industries have now settled on a new 60-month agreement for shipbuilders.
The vote was overwhelming. This time, 3,678 members voted yes, and 533 members voted no.
"Our members have spoken -- decisively. They have ratified a contract that broke new ground and enhanced gains from previous negotiations. Now it's time to move this union forward, understanding that a good contract is no better than the members who know what it says and what it means," said Local 8888 President Charles Spivey in a statement.
In January, officials announced the tentative agreement. When passed, it created a five-year contract that began on February 7, 2022, and will end on February 27, 2027.
The vote means new benefits that will now cover over 10,000 workers at Newport News Shipbuilding.
These include over $22,000 in new money based on a 40-hour week, a first-time $2,000 Essential Pay bonus, a new Domestic Partner benefit, an additional 8 hours of annual leave and a monthly boost to the pension payment to future retirees.
For the Navy, the agreement means the world's only maker of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (and one of only two companies in America that builds nuclear powered submarines) will continue its work, uninterrupted by a labor dispute.
Newport News Shipbuilding Vice President of Human Resources and Administration Susan Jacobs said in a statement: "We worked diligently with our union partners to reach a fair agreement, and are pleased that the new contract continues to provide the pay and benefits that our union employees expect."
This cycle of voting was conducted by mail-in ballot, which was different from the in-person voting that occurred on the first rejected agreement in November.
"It engaged thousands more members and allowed their voices to be heard and their votes to be counted," said USW Chief Negotiator Fred Redmond.
"This is a proud union with a new generation emerging in the shipyard. This contract gives them solid footing to flourish."
The vote means there will not be a strike at Virginia's largest industrial employer.
The last time there was a strike, in 1999, it lasted for 17 weeks.