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Shipbuilding settlements.

Bath (ME) Iron Works and Local 6 of the Marine and Shipbuilding Workers settled for 5,700 employees engaged in the production of fighting vessels. The 3-year contract provides for 2.5-percent annual wage increases and for shortening the progression schedule for new employees. Under the schedule established in 1985, new employees start at $3 an hour below the top rate for their classification and move to the top rate in three annual steps. The 1988 settlement provides for an immediate $1 an hour wage increase for employees in the stretched schedule, and for $1 increases on their employment anniversary dates.

Other terms include adoption of a job classification system providing for 14 pay rates, replacing the six-rate system, including elimination of a helper classification that paid $6 to $6.40, with such work now paid at $8.05; $100 bonus payments for 2 months of perfect attendance (formerly 6 months); 500,000 lifetime major medical insurance (formerly $25,000); adoption of a 401(k) savings plan calling for Bath to contribute 20 cents for each dollar of employee savings; and continuation of drug testing for new employees, but the testing is subject to suspension while the parties re-examine the testing procedure.

To some extent, the union's unity during the negotiations was hampered by a proposal to merge the Marine and Shipbuilding Workers national union with the Machinists union. Some members of Local 6 favored pulling out of the national union and forming an independent union for Bath employees. At the Marine and Shipbuilding Workers convention, held in October, delegates voted to merge into the Machinists.

On the West Coast, six unions settled with National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., ending a 3-week work stoppage at the company's San Diego, CA, shipyard. The dispute, which had triggered an employee work slowdown in the months prior to the stoppage, centered on a company demand for wage cuts to enable it to compete more effectively with Avondale Shipyards of New Orleans for U.S. Navy contracts. According to National Steel, wage rates at nonunion Avondale were $5.18 an hour for new hires and $9.02 for experienced employees, compared with $10.80 and $12.80, respectively, at National. National claims that this disparity was a major factor in its employment decline, from 7,000 workers in the early 1980's to 1,800 at present.

Under the 4-year contract, new employees receive $9.40 an hour and those already on the payroll receive $11.40, replacing the $8.80 and $10.80 rates the company had instituted after the workers rejected its offer when the previous contract expired in October 1987. In both 1990 and 1991, the new rates will be increased by 25 cents.

A gain for the unions was elimination of a "special helper" job classification and movement of the workers onto the seniority rolls for other jobs. Previously, employees in the "helper" classification (which paid $5.50 an hour) had not been added to the seniority rolls, leading to concern by the union that the company would use the helpers to replace other employees.

The settlement covered 1,200 employees. The unions involved were the Iron Workers, the Machinists, the Painters and Allied Workers, the Teamsters, the Operating Engineers, and the Carpenters.
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Title Annotation:Developments in Industrial Relations
Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Dec 1, 1988
Previous Article:General Dynamics - Metal Trades Council contract.
Next Article:Construction accords.

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