NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News shipbuilders are holding an “essential rally” Thursday, the latest public action since union members rejected a 5-year proposal contract in November.

In a release Monday from members of the United Steelworkers Local 8888, officials announced the rally in hopes for a better contract with Newport News Shipbuilding.

USW Local 8888 represents 12,500 workers at Newport News Shipbuilding.

The “Essential Rally for a Fair Contract” is set for Thursday, Dec. 16, at 2:30 p.m. at the famous “Dorothy” tugboat along Washington Avenue.

Members are set to participate in a “Scrooge Protest,” followed by a “solidarity program” featuring a bargaining update and solidarity messages from political, labor and community allies.

Demonstrators will display holiday-themed signs and lead chants stating essential shipbuilders “expect more and deserve more from their employer, Huntington Ingalls Industries.”

“We cannot pay our bills with lip service about being ‘heroes,'” said union members in the release.

“This company has already rewarded stockholders with millions in dividends this year. Don’t play ‘Scrooge’ with the shipbuilders who worked through the Covid pandemic to create that wealth. We have
earned a fair contract.”

In early November, members of United Steelworkers Local 8888 voted down a new tentative five-year collective bargaining agreement that was previously agreed upon.

According to a Facebook post, the vote received a total of 1,996 votes – 1,312 people voted no and 684 voted yes. The vote was conducted by secret ballot.

The agreement was expected to enhance wages, improve pensions, curb health care costs and bolster promotional opportunities in lower job categories. It was set to replace the agreement that expired Sunday night.

There are currently no talks are scheduled for the remainder of 2021.