History made! 10,000+ members at Local 8888

USW Local 8888 has begun the New Year and new decade by reaching a significant milestone. On Wednesday, January 8th, Justin Bates, a painter at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding became the 10,000th member of the union.

Local 8888 represents hourly workers at the Virginia shipyard. Hitting the 10,000-member marker is especially sweet because Virginia is a right-to-work state. 10,000th member joins 8888

USW Local President Charles Spivey called the milestone “a phenomenal achievement shared by organizers from our local and our international union in Pittsburgh that sent a great team here last spring to help us sign more new members.”  

In 2019, nearly 1,500 shipyard workers joined Local 8888, reversing a downward trend that could have weakened the union’s leverage in contract negotiations with Huntington Ingalls in 2021. 

Spivey has made organizing and training the next generation of Steelworker activists his top priority since he was elected president of Local 8888 in May, 2018.

“Folks are really engaged now,” he said. “We’re approaching people at the gates, over the phone, and during home visits. We’ve revamped our message and approach in company orientation for new hires and apprentices. Now, we’re signing up 90-95 percent of them.”

Local 8888, which was already one of the largest locasl in the Steelworkers international union, is poised to flex its added strength in Richmond, where key pro-labor bills will be put before politicians who campaigned hard for labor votes last November.

President Spivey said the membership milestone and union’s organizing success show “8888 is back in the game.” He cited some tangible gains: “We’ve got more dues-paying members and fewer freeloaders. We have better morale and less negativity. We’re keeping the union spirit alive with new energy. Most of all, we have sent a powerful message to the company: At contract time, we won’t be coming for crumbs. We’re 10,000 strong now.” 

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