Rapid business growth may be the key to finally unionizing shipbuilding workers in Mobile, Ala., where an Australia-based defense contractor has successfully fought union organizing for more than a decade.

That’s the estimation of Ron Ault, President of the AFL-CIO’S Metal Trades Department (MTD), an umbrella group for unions representing boilermakers, machinists, pipefitters, and other skilled shipbuilding workers from around the country. “There is a boom in Gulf Coast shipyards now,” Ault says, and high demand for skilled workers may give unions a foothold. Gulf shipyards are recruiting workers from all parts of the country, including heavily unionized areas, and the presence of this whole new generation of workers is a real opportunity for labor organizing, according to Ault.

Six MTD unions have joined together to back such a union campaign at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, where lucrative Navy contracts have fueled a rapid expansion of the business, including massive new hiring. Campaign organizers are settling down in Mobile for a long-haul effort to revive union shipbuilding in the city, Ault says.
Booming Business at Alabama Shipyard Fuels New Union Campaign - Working In These Times