NASSCO workers ratify first agreement, settle lawsuit

Local 1998-represented employees recoup $14 million for lost meal and break periods

AFTER 16 YEARS without a labor contract, 2,300 employees of General Dynamics’ NASSCO Shipyard in San Diego, Calif. — represented by Boilermakers Local 1998 — have ratified an agreement with the company. Workers approved the contract June 14 by unanimous vote. They also settled a lawsuit with NASSCO worth millions.

NASSCO (National Steel and Shipbuilding Company) designs, builds, and repairs auxiliary ships for the U.S. Navy and tankers covered under the Jones Act. More than a-decade-and-a-half ago, production and maintenance employees there formed an independent union — the Shipyard Workers Union. The union merged with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers in 2003.

The new agreement and the lawsuit settlement came after intense negotiations between the company and the union in recent weeks. Warren Fairley, International Vice President – Industrial Sector, said it was clear that NASSCO wished to resolve the lawsuit that had been filed in December 2004. The lawsuit arose over the company’s failure to provide employees with meal and rest periods in accordance with California law. The union documented over three years of violations.

Under the settlement, the shipyard workers will share cash payments totaling $13.9 million. They will also receive an increase in pension benefits worth $5.2 million.

As the settlement was reached, the two sides also agreed to a five-year contract that gains fundamental union rights as well as significant wage improvements for NASSCO employees. Wages will be increased in each of the five years of the agreement, and all members will receive signing bonuses. In addition, the company will provide for paid shop stewards (including chief shop stewards), two full-time union health and safety reps, union dues check-off, a grievance and arbitration procedure with binding arbitration, and broader involvement in evaluations and new hire orientations.

“This settlement and agreement place the Boilermakers union and members of Local 1998 in a position to build a strong, viable local lodge,” said International President Newton B. Jones. “It has been a long time coming, but the perseverance of these workers has paid off, and now they will truly be able to enjoy the benefits of union membership. This is a proud day for these members, Local 1998 President Bobby Godinez, and the International officers and staff who have worked so hard over the years on behalf of the NASSCO workers.”

Editor’s Note: Expanded coverage of this developing story will be published as additional information becomes available.