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Va. Shipbuilding Union Plans Strike

April 5, 1999

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) _ Thousands of workers were scheduled to begin striking at Newport News Shipbuilding at midnight Sunday.

``We haven’t heard a word″ from shipyard management, said Arnold Outlaw, president of Local 8888 of the United Steelworkers of America.

The union, which represents many of the yard’s 9,200 hourly workers, planned to strike over what it says are insufficient raises in a proposed new contract.

Shipyard spokesmen Jerri Fuller Dickseski said the company had gotten no official notification from the union of a strike vote or that there would be a strike.

At issue are many of the details of the new contract for hourly employees at the shipyard, Hampton Roads’ largest employer with 17,400 workers.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires Sunday at midnight. In the new contract, the union wants an across-the-board hourly pay increase of $3.95 over three years.

The shipyard offered to raise wages 6 percent immediately, 3 percent in August 2000 and 4 percent in December 2001 for most hourly employees.

The shipyard said the average worker would get a total increase of $2.49 an hour, with automatic promotions based on experience and skills.

About 7,200 hourly workers voted Thursday to reject that plan, which the yard said would be its final offer.

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