Long-Awaited Win for Virginia Shipyard Workers

After more than six years of company delay and politically-inspired stalling, 220 Huntington Ingalls Shipyard workers in Newport News, VA will soon be able to negotiate an IAM collective bargaining agreement.

The workers, known as Radiological Control Monitors Techs (RCTs), originally held a union representation election in 2009 while employed by Northrup Grumman. After the election but before ballots were counted, the company petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to include more than 2,700 unrelated workers in the bargaining unit. Because of underfunding and a lack of staff, it took the NLRB more than two years to rule in favor of the IAM. The ballots were counted and the IAM was certified as the winner of the election in February 2012.

But rather than honor its obligation to bargain, the company appealed the decision in federal court. The company attacked the validity of the NLRB’s order by asserting President Obama had exceeded his constitutional power by placing several of the board’s members through his “recess appointment” power. The appeals court sided with the company, as did the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case then returned to the NLRB, which by then had a full quorum of validly-appointed members. The NLRB again ordered Huntington Ingalls to bargain with the IAM, as did a federal court upon yet another company appeal.

“Congratulations are due to District 74 Directing Business Representative Larry Young for his patience and hard work in keeping the unit members informed during the tortuous progress of this case, as well as the IAM’s Legal Department, who fought for these workers every step of the way,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark Blondin. “But the real congratulations must be given to the workers themselves, who demanded their rights and had the courage and patience to wait out the company’s outrageous delaying tactics.”