NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Newport News Shipbuilding — Virginia’s largest industrial employer and a key player in the Navy’s modernization efforts -- has reached a tentative five-year contract with its biggest union.
The agreement with the United Steelworkers Local 8888 comes after its members rejected an earlier pact late last year, the Daily Press of Newport News reported.
Both agreements called for annual pay increases. Union spokesman Dwight Kirk said the latest deal represents an enhancement over the rejected agreement but declined to provide details on the wage stipulations. Kirk said the union planned briefing the 12,000 workers in its collective bargaining union before they’re asked to vote on it. Kirk also said the agreement includes pension improvements, a cap on health care costs union members pay and the first benefit domestic partners.
Newport News Shipbuilding spokesman Danny Hernandez confirmed the tentative agreement was reached Friday. Details would be posted in the coming week, he said.
About 25,000 people work at Newport News Shipbuilding, which builds and refuels all the Navy’s aircraft carriers and builds nuclear-powered submarines. A strike hasn’t occurred at the shipbuilding yard since 1999, the newspaper said.
The shipyard is critical to the Navy’s top modernization program — the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, according to the newspaper. With a $2.2 billion contract, Newport News shipbuilders are working to build portions of the new boats.