United Service Workers Union Takes Reins of Civilian Contract Negotiations at New Jersey’s Fort Dix & McGuire Air Force Base 

United Service Workers Union Takes Reins of Civilian Contract Negotiations at New Jersey’s Fort Dix & McGuire Air Force Base

Delivers Rapid & Valuable New Work Provisions for Disabled Veteran Workforce

 

The 107 unionized stationary engineers who help operate the physical infrastructure at New Jersey’s iconic Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base are celebrating a win this week, as their new union, United Service Workers Union (USWU) Local 339, negotiated a new wage and benefits agreement that delivers significant salary increases, medical cost savings and expanded 401k contributions.

After successfully winning a June 2021 worker-led initiative and election to replace prior longtime representation, USWU Local 339 negotiated with federal contractor, Pride Industries, to secure the new four-year deal for the workers.  

Pride is a national firm that specializes in hiring disabled United States Military veterans for careers through which to continue serving their country, via civilian employment opportunities. 

The contract, which takes effect August 1, 2021, will increase the average worker’s salary from approximately $61,000 to $75,000, resulting in a 20 percent raise by July 2025.

“This is a union Local made up of ex-service men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving the people of our great nation, first in combat and enlisted support roles, and now in maintaining operations at a critical, strategic facility that provides important public safety for New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and our U.S. Capitol, as well as economic development for the surrounding counties in New Jersey,” said Kevin Barry, Director of the Construction Division for the USWU/ IUJAT. 

USWU represents approximately 30,000 members within 18 affiliated local unions throughout the United States, including upwards of 6,000 members in New Jersey alone.

These stationary engineers maintain the base and its buildings for the approximately 7,700 people who live on the base at Fort Dix. Critically, more than half of the workers are disabled veterans, who are tasked with vital maintenance of the grounds, boilers, HVAC systems, water plants and other key property and infrastructure.

“Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base are essentially a mini city, and these people keep it up and running at peak condition,” explained Barry. “It’s critical that the base is always in top shape, and it felt wonderful to secure a contract that properly and adequately recognized and compensated those workplace efforts.”

The new deal was negotiated in record time, taking only two days rather than the previous process which reportedly consumed about six weeks of back and forth. Negotiators were able to secure significant wage increases, retirement plan funding and a restructured insurance plan that will not only result in significant savings to workers’ benefit contributions but also offer the workforce nationwide health coverage—a critical addition for the 25 percent of workers who reside in Pennsylvania and were previously unable to utilize New Jersey-centric health care plan.

After years of hit and miss advocacy for the civilian workers here at the base, we took a stand and recognized it was time for a change with a new union. While we were hoping for more dynamic representation, we never realized just how rapidly change could come about and that Pride Industries also wanted to see us do better for our families,” said Mario Galluccio, an Army veteran and Pride Industries employee.

“Because of how well the USWU managed its funds, the union was able to arrive at a significant deal that is truly a win-win for everyone involved,” he continued. “It’s a great contract and the workforce feels valued.  We are excited for the future now that we are being advocated for by the USWU and IUJAT.”

Workers overwhelmingly ratified the contract in a July 16 vote. The USWU was voted in as the workers’ new bargaining agent on June 9, 2021.

 

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