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Back Local News Guam Shipyard workers to vote on union tomorrow

Guam Shipyard workers to vote on union tomorrow

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GUAM Shipyard workers will vote tomorrow on whether they will be represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The vote comes a little more than 14 months after Guam Shipyard workers voted not to belong to the union by a wide margin.

Kenneth Laguana, local union representative for IBEW Local 1260, said this year, he and Guam union workers have been able to tell Shipyard workers about the benefits of unionization. “Our membership is involved in educating [Shipyard employees] on what the union’s all about and what benefits they get from being a member of the union,” he said. The union has about 1,000 members working for companies on the island’s military bases, he said.

The 2012 election included representation by the Guam Federation of Teachers as a third option for the Shipyard employees. “We had more time this year,” he said. "Last year ... we were in the process of educating them. [GFT] turned in the petition and we weren’t ready, but we still had enough to go on the ballot.”

Laguana said he was approached by Shipyard workers shortly after last year’s election. “I told them, ‘We have to wait a whole year to hold the election,'” he said. “Come December, some of the contacts started calling me. They said, ‘The first of the year is coming around.’ I said, ‘OK, I’ll meet you. Start getting people to come out.’”

Desire

He said almost 120 people filled out cards indicating their desire to have the election. “That was about 70 percent of the local work force,” he said. He needed 30 percent to call for the election. While H-2 workers may be more reticent to request it, they are also eligible for union representation, he said. “There are 81 H-2 workers there,” he said. “They get union representation just like the locals.”

In preparation for the vote, Laguana said he has been meeting with the workers and making sure they are aware of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

Though the government has begun restructuring the contract under which ships are repaired at the facility, and several companies attended a site visit and industry forum for interested bidders, Laguana said a union contract, if one is in place, would carry over to the new ship repair contract.

“Whether [Guam Shipyard] wins the contract or anybody else gets the contract ... the union will be there to make sure the workers have fair wages and benefits, and their voices are being heard,” he said. “All that happens will be on a contract and we’ll be there to enforce the contract whether this company wins the [request for proposal] or another company wins the RFP. If another company wins the RFP, they’re going to find a successor clause in our contract, and also they can’t displace those workers who organized under us anyway.”

Today representatives of the union, the National Labor Relations Board and Guam Shipyard will meet to review the procedures and responsibilities for tomorrow’s vote.

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