Union workers ratify contract at service center (St. Albans Messenger)

Northrop-Grumman to hike wages, add 401ks

By Michelle Monroe, Staff Writer

ST. ALBANS CITY — Northrop-Grumman employees at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Center (CIS) have ratified their first union contract.

The workers voted in February to join the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE). Negotiations have been ongoing since May at both the Vermont Service Center and the California service center. The contract was ratified on Friday.

According to UE representative Kim Lawson, workers will receive a 9 percent wage increase over three years —3 percent each year. Workers classified as general clerk I will see their wages increase to $15.89 from $14.54 over the three years. Employees with the designation general clerk II will receive a $1.59 increase in their wages over three years.

Workers at the California service center, where all but a handful of the workers employed under a federal contract with Stanley Associates unionized, were able to negotiate a 17 percent increase. Northrop-Grumman is a Stanley subcontractor at both facilities.

Union workers at both facilities will now receive matching contributions to their 401k accounts, something many of them lost when Stanley took over the contract last December.

The workers also were able to negotiate improved vacation benefits, seniority rights and other protections, Lawson said.

"This is a good, beginning contract. There are real cost of living raises in this contract. We have protections in place, and this is a place to start," said Susan Hunter, Northrop Grumman employee and negotiating committee member.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, actively supported workers during the negotiations, contacting Northrop officials "to tell the company that these Vermonters deserved better," according to Lawson, who called his support "critical."