Shipyard may return to 5-day week

Workers are on a four-day schedule now

PASCAGOULA

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding – Gulf Coast announced this week it is considering going back to the five-day work week and met with union officials at the Ingalls yard Thursday morning.

The four-day work week was agreed upon years ago by both the company and the unions, but outside the labor contract.

What they have is a memorandum of understanding on the issue, and with that, either side can go back to the five-day work week with 30-day’s notice.

The company hasn’t issued that formal notice.

But a union official who attended the meeting Thursday said the company planned to exercise that option and that the shipyard would return to the five-day work week on May 31. Several workers leaving the yard Thursday afternoon also said they were told that they would be returning to a five-day work week.

A spokesman for Northrop Grumman said Thursday evening that the only official notification is the letter Vice President and General Manager Irwin F. Edenzon issued Wednesday.

In it, he said, “I can confirm that Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Gulf Coast is currently evaluating the possibility of returning to a five-day, eight-hour work week schedule.”

Edenzon said, “In order to reach our potential, we must address the productivity and quality improvement challenges that come with being the best at what we do.”

He said he was examining what impacts employees ability to work safely, build quality ships and meet cost and schedule targets.

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding -Gulf Coast has about 12,000 workers at the Ingalls yard and about 17,000 overall in its operations, including Avondale, La., Gulfport and Tallulah, La.

The union official said one reason they were given for the company’s decision was the cost of overtime for managers under the four-day work week.

An advantage for workers is that the second shift will get off at closer to midnight.

With the four-day work week, second shift got off work at 3:15 a.m.

He said that because shipbuilding is a heavy industry, a 10-hour day can take a toll on workers.

Workers are currently under a labor contract that ends March 2012.

By KAREN NELSON – klnelson@sunherald.com
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