Strike At Northrop Shipyard Halts Operations

Company is largest private employer in Mississippi.

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) - The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers declared a strike Thursday at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems' Ingalls shipyard here and workers began manning a picket line.

The move halted work at Mississippi's largest private employer.

All unions at the shipyard are now on strike, expect office workers, IBEW business agent Jim Couch said Thursday.

Northrop Grumman spokesman Bill Glenn did not immediately returned phone calls seeking comment.

The strike was sanctioned by both the 1,200-member IBEW and the Pascagoula Metal Trades Council. The council represents 11 unions and 6,200 workers.

The strike comes after workers twice voted down a proposed contract with the company, which primarily builds military ships.

Employees at Northrop Grumman plants in Gulfport, New Orleans and Tallulah, La., approved their new labor agreements, Glenn said.

The latest version of the contract offered by the shipyard's management wouldn't give workers enough of a raise to offset cost-of-living increases caused by Hurricane Katrina over the last few years, IBEW members said.

The last strike inside the Ingalls yard was in 1999.

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