Electrical workers win first contract at Litton Essay

After a 4-year confrontation, Litton Systems, Inc., and the UnitedElectrical Workers negotiated an initial contract for 2,000 employees ofthe company’s microwave oven plant in Sioux Falls, SD. TheElectrical Workers had won a representation election at the plant inNovember 1980. A year later, the National Labor Relations Board certified the union as the bargaining agent for the workers, but therelationship became increasingly antagonistic as the parties tradedcharges and engaged in legal actions. The union, which won theassistance of other unions in a national publicity and boycott driveagainst Litton, claimed that the company was engaged in a corporatewidecampaign to thwart employee efforts to organize. Litton denied this,saying its labor relations strategies were set at the local rather thannational level and that its number of labor law violations was notexcessive considering its large number of plants.

A major factor in attaining the contract settlement was theintervention of a joint committee the parties established in 1983 todiscuss and investigate labor disputes. The new contract, which extends to January 31, 1987, provides forwage increases of 35 cents an hour effective immediately, 40 cents inAugust 1985, and 25 cents in August 1986. Prior to the settlement, theemployees reportedly averaged $5.20 an hour. Benefit provisions include coverage under a contributorycompanywide pension plan; a grievance procedure; seniority rights;job-bidding procedures; health and safety monitoring; 11 holidays; and ahealth plan calling for a nominal employee contribution for singlecoverage and $25 a month for family coverage.

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