Electric Boat expects to hire more than 500 extra employees as it gets ready to work on the largest contract ever awarded by the U.S. Navy. The workforce can still expect pain in the short term.
The contract for ten Virginia class submarines represents five years of steady work building two submarines a year at the Groton yard, something that's been hard to come by in recent decades.
Ken DelaCruz is president of the Metal Trades Council at Electric Boat, the union for many of the waterfront workers. "We've been -- it's like on a roller coaster," he said. "Some of these folks, they've been hired; they've been laid off; and then they get rehired again. It's a hard way to make a living, you know. We would just like to have it stable so that you know you've got a good place to work every day."
The rollercoaster won't come to rest just yet. The new contract kicks in at the end of this year, and until then, more layoffs could take place as other work tapers off.
Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation visited the yard on Monday to congratulate workers on the win.
Senator Richard Blumenthal told them one of the reasons the Navy was prepared to award the massive $17.6 billion contract at a time of military cutbacks is the extraordinary productivity of the Groton workforce. "The American taxpayer is getting ten submarines for the price of nine," he told them. "You are saving American taxpayers $2 billion on this contract. Think of it. That's a model for what America should be doing in defense procurement."
Senator Chris Murphy highlighted the strategic need for undersea capability at a time when China and Russia are advancing their military technology. "As a member of the foreign relations committee," he said, "we understand in a very new way about the threats in our open seas, because of the advancements that other nations are making in terms of their sub fleets' capacities."
The contract supports a workforce of 11,600 between Groton and Quonset Point in Rhode Island. It also provides good news for more than 360 companies that supply parts and services to EB.
Congressman Joe Courtney told the audience, "The surge of economic multiplier and growth that this contract represents for our region, and for the state of Connecticut, is as large as any announcement that we're going to see for this year, or for years to come."
Ten Virginia class subs have so far been delivered to the Navy, and a further eight are currently being built.