The issue of the Pentagon’s instructions to the Navy to scrap the purchase of 20 of the planned Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) was discussed today during an interview with President Ron Ault of the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

President Ault is currently in Mobile visiting with Austal workers at the plant gate. The announcement, released January 15, has raised some concerns with Austal workers. Austal currently has a contract to build 10 of the LCS vessels.

President Ault said “looking at our crystal ball, the ten ships currently under contract look pretty safe – the 10 LCS and the 10 Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV). We don’t believe the (LCS) program is going to be cancelled. Per my conversations with Naval Secretary Mabus and Naval Undersecretary Sean Stackley, they intend to fight to fulfill the plan of 52 ships total. They recognize that these vessels are vital to the Navy’s needs.”

In responding to questions surrounding sequestration and the tightening of budgets, Ault said, “with budgetary constraints and the downward pressure on the entire Navy shipbuilding budget, members of Congress have questioned the costs, the survivability, and the quality issues of the LCS program. However, the lobbying clout of the unions will be a tremendous asset to any shipbuilding company, especially Austal. We are currently working with our other employers, Huntington Ingalls, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, lobbying for their shipbuilding contracts.”

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We want to take this opportunity to wish each of our fellow Austal co-workers and friends a very safe and happy holiday season. There has been a lot progress made in 2013 to get union representation at Austal, but we still have work to be done. Safety, productivity, consistent work schedules, opportunities for growth, discrimination – all of these issues continue without resolution from the company. We need some type of feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. Over 40 of our co-workers have signed petitions in the past month and delivered to the company with no response. Austal says they have an open-door policy – that we have a voice here – tell us your problems and let’s work together to fix them – so we came with two petitions and we haven’t heard anything from either.

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I have been a journeyman pipefitter in the shipbuilding industry for 28 years. I worked in Final Assembly at Austal for six years responsible for testing and preparing the ship pipe systems including the main propulsion, gray water and hydraulic.

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“Whoever’s gonna do the evaluation needs to be someone that’s with you every day,” says Class-A Welder Ed Daniel. Daniel, who works in Fabrication at Austal signed a petition to Don Keeler and the Human Resources Department that asks for the company to standardize the evaluation procedure. 


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Yesterday, 16 of your coworkers hand delivered a petition to human resources in Final Assembly asking that Austal reconsider its cell phone policy. "We believe this new communication policy should be re-evaluated and modified to create a safer, more productive work environment," the petition read.

Petitioners pointed out that the new policy puts workers in potential danger and asked that it be reconsidered:

"For many of us, our daily job tasks at Austal frequently require us to be in potentially dangerous areas alone for extended hours. Prior to the revised policy, if an injury occurred a cell phone would be our only means of alerting someone to our situation. Therefore, we request that: (1) Workers in isolated areas are always paired with a co-worker; or (2) Workers are equipped with a radio at all times while in isolated work areas."

See the full text of the letter:

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Dear Austal Employee;

The original National Labor Relations Act was written in 1935 and included certain protections under Federal Law for employees engaging in group activities highlighting hazardous or poor working conditions, low wages and other job-related problems. These rights, which have been upheld numerous times through appellate courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, define the activities that employees can engage in without fear of company retaliation.

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Attached you will find information on the Employee at Will Law in Alabama. This Law makes a Union necessary today! Employment at Will Laws are written BY and FOR EMPLOYERS, shielding them from lawsuits for discrimination, unfair treatment, and for failing to provide benefits that are covered in their handbooks. It allows Austal to change or take away any benefit, with or without notice, or to provide those benefits to some employees and not to others. It allows Austal to write up or fire employees for any reason or for no reason at all. It allows them to write up or fire one worker for a reason that other workers receive no discipline at all. It allows Austal to give raises and promotions to workers based on who they know, rather than how much they know or how well they do their job. Read more >>>

"They [the union] cared enough to help me out," said Anthony Cummings, about his on the job injury. "Whereas Austal didn't, they just wanted to shove me out the door."

If you, like Anthony, have suffered from an injury, including repetitive motion injuries that you believe is a direct result of your job, call your Mobile Metal Trades for assistance – (251) 434-8254. You can also find valuable information on the website www.AustalWorkers.com and our Facebook page.

Shipyard work is some of the most hazardous work according to the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than twice the accident rate of other industries. Safe worksites require a serious effort to identify all potential hazards, while seeking solutions to correct those hazards. It requires management working closely with employees to develop and implement a Real Safety Program. It requires an on-going education & prevention effort.

Austal has NO Serious Safety Program in Place—So Protect Yourself!!

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Want a real voice at Austal--want union representation--sign your union card today. Austal may say you do not need to sign to have an election. NOT TRUE. The National Labor Relations Board requires that a minimum of 30% of workers sign union authorization cards prior to initiating an election process.  NO CARDS--NO ELECTION!!

It is important that more than 50% of workers sign for the union for two reasons:

  1. Once a majority has signed...your union will notify Austal that a majority of workers have requested a voice and union represention. By law, normal changes like raises, bonuses and other normal changes should continue. However, other major changes that are not considered regular changes to your conditions of employment, Austal should only make those changes after consultation with you, your co-workers, and your union. GETTING A MAJORITY IS THE KEY TO YOU DEMANDING A VOICE AT AUSTAL!!
  2. In addition, to win your voice and an election will require that the majority of workers at Austal vote in favor of your union. ONCE AGAIN, GETTING A MAJORITY IS THE KEY TO YOU MAKING REAL CHANGE AT AUSTAL.

The cards being signed are used for the purposes above--to demand that the company negotiate with you, your co-workers and your union over the issues at Austal, and to initiate the election process. THESE CARDS ARE NOT AND CANNOT BE USED TO COLLECT UNION DUES!! Once your union is establised at Austal, workers will be asked to sign membership cards that are also used for dues. Membership and payment of dues will be voluntary--no one can be forced to join!!

Have you signed your Authorization Card?

If not, click on the card to download a pdf and sign your authorization card now. To return it contact our office at 251-434-8254 or you can mail it to Mobile Metal Trades, P.O. Box 66091, Mobile, AL 36660.

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Join the conversation.

Fill out the form here to get involved.

“Management is terrified of us having a voice. We’re not going to be scared away this time. We deserve a real voice in our future. We’re Austal—and we can be the best. Our Military deserves the best. We’re going to see that they get it.“
- Shannon Roberts, MMF 1—Pipe Department Read more >>>

Federal Law Guarantees that we have a say in “fixing what’s wrong at Austal”

  • It gives us equal standing with management
  • It Forces them to listen to our problems and our solutions
  • It is up to us to be strong and demand it!
  • It is illegal for them to threaten our jobs, our future, our pay, our benefits
  • It is illegal for them to question us about our union
  • It is legal for us to discuss issues and discuss our union at work

If you believe your supervisor or management is punishing / threatening you because of your support for a union, call (251) 434-8254. Our lawyers are on call to protect your Rights.

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We are the Mobile Metal Trades Council.  The Mobile Metal Trades Council is currently an organization of 6 Craft Unions that are working with the employees at Austal. The unions are listed below. All 6 of these unions have a long history of representing shipyard workers across the US, including workers at Ingalls that are part of the Pascagoula Metal Trades Council. We are part of the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

The Unions of the Mobile MTC include:

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Mobile Metal Trades Council
e-mail: MobileMTC@MetalTrades.org

Phone: 251-434-8254

PO Box 66091
Mobile, AL 36660

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