Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Gulf Coast Shipyard workers settle strike

Workers at the massive Pascagoula shipworks complex walked off their jobs in early March. All 7,000 of them.

They conducted their strike in dignity, marching downtown to Pascagoula to seek support from local merchants. When the 2,000 person-strong march arrived, merchants greeted them with food, water, and well-wishes.

The strike happened amidst the backdrop of Katrina-ravaged Mississippi. One union electrician had this to say about the strike, his boss, and things in general:
"Since Katrina, you can't get housing," he said. "People raised the rents up so high, they pretty much price-gouged. ... All we're saying is, let us have some pride and dignity. ... We'll keep fighting for that until we get what's fair."
They have settled their strike, and won some increases in pay from the military contractors who run the shipyard. But it's kind of sad. The first year guarantees an increase of $1.68 an hour, with two .55 cent per hour increases in the 2nd and 3rd year of the contract. The company offered a deal with $1.10 an hour in the first year, followed by identical raises in the 2nd and 3rd year. This from one of the wealthiest government contractors around--they usually earn $5 billion a year in contracts from the DOD. It drives home just how little people are really asking for, and the lengths they have to go to get it.

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