NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - United Steelworkers (USW) Local 8888 has reached a tentative agreement with Huntington Ingalls Industries on a new collective bargaining agreement covering Newport News Shipbuilding employees.

The proposed contract includes a signing bonus; improves wages and pensions; features contract language that bolsters promotional opportunities; and preserves quality, affordable health insurance for union members and their families.

“We knew going into these negotiations that we were in for a tough fight,” said USW International Vice President (Human Affairs) Fred Redmond, who chaired the union’s negotiations with Newport News. “The political stalemate in Washington over the budget, uncertainty about future contracts with the Navy, coupled with rampant health care inflation and risk, created a challenging environment to bargain a decent contract for our members.”

“We prevailed because we were prepared and never wavered from our objectives,” Redmond said.

Local 8888 President Arnold Outlaw echoed Redmond’s remarks.

“Our bargaining committee held strong, and we were supported every step of the way by Fred and our outstanding International staff,” Outlaw said. “We resisted company efforts to deny our members a pay raise in the first year of the contract.”

“We looked out for members stuck in certain pay grades,” he said. “We rolled back health insurance premiums, and indeed, we rocked the boat with this contract!”

The Local 8888 bargaining committee has recommended ratification of the new pact. The union will hold a secret ballot vote for members to ratify or reject the proposed contract later this week.

USW Local 8888 represents 9,700 workers at the shipyard. The proposed agreement was finalized less than 48 hours before the current contract would have expired at midnight July 9, 2017, and members got their first detailed report on the tentative agreement Sunday afternoon at a members-only meeting at the Hampton University Convocation Center.