NEWPORT NEWS, VA. -- Employment at Newport News Shipbuilding has stabilized with the recall of production workers laid off in November and the hiring of new workers in recent weeks, shipyard and union officials said.
Recall notices have been sent to all 950 maintenance and production workers laid off in November, and about 55 percent of them have rejoined the company, said Jack Schnaedter, a company spokesman.
About 300 salaried workers also were laid off in November, but Schnaedter said he knew of no plans to recall them.
He said new workers have been hired in the welding, shipfitting and sheet metal departments.
The work force, however, remains below its peacetime peak of 30,000 employes in late 1985. Schnaedter said the yard employs about 28,000 workers, including 1,200 people who joined the company in March with its acquisition of Sperry Marine Systems.
The recall has been in accord with provisions negotiated in the new contract between Newport News Shipbuilding and the United Steelworkers of America, Local 8888 President Ralph Axsom said.
Under the new rules, all laid-off production workers were advised that they could return to production jobs, regardless of whether the job was in the same department from which the worker had been furloughed, Axsom said.
"I think this was a big breakthrough for us," he said.
Axsom said he hopes the yard will win new Navy contracts that will boost employment, citing two aircraft carriers that have been approved by the House of Representatives in its fiscal year 1988 budget authorization and Trident ballistic missile submarines on which the yard may bi