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October 01, 1986

Your article (Sept. 13) on the Navy choosing Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., a division of Litton Industries, rather than National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., to build three new helicopter landing ships, causing a layoff of 2,300 shipyard workers, is just another example of the Reagan Administration's drive to lower the wages of West Coast shipyard workers.

Ninety percent of all shipbuilding and ship repair in this country is done directly for the Navy, and since this Administration took office all major new construction contracts have gone to the shipyards on the East Coast and Gulf area, causing thousands of workers from San Diego to Seattle to lose their jobs.

In the past some of these losses were offset with maintenance and overhaul of many vessels and commercial shipbuilding. However, with more Navy overhauls being done overseas, that source of jobs is drying up.

Allowing shipping companies that receive operational subsidies from the federal government to build their ships overseas has made commercial shipbuilding an endangered species in this country.

The most recent example is American President Lines contracting with Hyundai Shipyard in South Korea to build seven cargo ships, while continuing to be subsidized by our tax dollars.

President Reagan got elected on a promise to revitalize the economy and create jobs--and he did, in South Korea, Taiwan and other countries that offer union-free environment and low wages, while steel workers, textile workers, shipyard workers, and other workers from other industries are walking the streets.



Samanc is president of Local 9 of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union of Marine & Shipbuilding Workers of America.

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