READ: Summary of the Proposed Agreement Between Huntington Ingalls Industries and the USW

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Brothers and Sisters,

Since we began this round of contract negotiations in September 2021, our goal has always been to bargain a deal that reflects your hard work and effort in keeping the shipyard running during the height of the Covid-19 outbreak.

In order to keep your priorities front and center, we sent out surveys and held department meetings. We then formulated a list of proposals based on your feedback that we presented to Huntington Ingalls on behalf of the members of Local 8888.

By November, we made enough progress that we decided it was time to present a tentative agreement to you. The membership sent a strong message to the company by voting down this deal – and we also heard you loud and clear.

We went back to the table to make improvements and are now presenting this new agreement to you for ratification.


From the very beginning of negotiations, we were met by a company determined to eliminate benefits like PT time, increase your health care costs and pay bonuses instead of general wage increases.

The union felt that PT time should be increased, yet the company wanted to eliminate time off and award good attendance with pay only.

We wanted to hold the line on insurance cost, but the company wanted to add penalties if employees did not comply with wellness checks.

The company complained about increased labor costs because appropriations from the Navy prevent it from generating immediate cash.

Your committee hung in there and stayed focused on getting the best contract possible. Our union friends in Pascagoula, Miss., who were in bargaining at the same time, decided to settle for bonuses instead of wage increases, but your committee decided against that approach.


After the first tentative agreement was rejected, we decided to wait until after the holidays to go back to the table. We resumed bargaining on January 17th, and this agreement represents our best efforts to force the company to recognize your contributions to its success.

The company strongly resisted putting more money into the contract. It argued that the previous tentative agreement was far more expensive than the ratified contract in Pascagoula and that it met the benchmarks on wages and benefits throughout the shipbuilding industry.

But we rolled up our sleeves, got to work and found creative solutions to accomplish our goals.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • This agreement contains permanent wage and pension increases.
  • We also held the line on health care copays and deductibles, raised the starting rates and negotiated procedural protections for employees trying to progress to Specialty Job Family rates. 
  • The agreement increases annual leave by eight hours, improves bereavement leave language and adds new medical provisions, such as hearing aid coverage.
  • It provides other benefits as described in this summary, including Domestic Partner coverage.


We are proud of what we were able to accomplish under difficult circumstances. This agreement has no concessions or give backs and provides financial improvements, as well as improvements in pensions and benefits and other provisions.

We are convinced that this agreement represents the best path forward and strongly encourage you to ratify this contract.

President Charles Spivey gave his personal approval of the deal, saying, "This is a solid contract with the improvements we fought hard to win. These were not easy negotiations. But I believe this is the best deal we could bring back to our membership at this time. We stood our ground to be treated and rewarded as Essential Shipbuilders, and we achieved that goal."

In the interest of full transparency, a rejection of this agreement will result in the union being forced to take a strike vote. Late notice and Covid-19 concerns resulted in a low turnout at the last explanation meeting and for the contract ratification vote. This is a very important decision you must make.

Therefore, we have decided to mail out this contract summary. Enclosed in the mailing will be a mail-in ballot with instructions on how to cast your vote and mail it in, a common practice in large ratification votes to allow full participation.

We will hold small group meetings at the hall in which we will publish a schedule of when people will be available to answer your questions. If you have any questions, contact a member of the Union Bargaining Committee or your Grievance representative.

Under this process, it will take more time for ratification, so we have negotiated immediate pay increases to be paid retroactively to February 7, 2022.

Together, let’s move forward and ratify this contract, which is unanimously endorsed by the full committee. It provides us a path to succeed now, and allows us to build upon these improvements in future negotiations.