YARD WORKERS AT TODD VOTING ON LABOR PACT PLAN INCLUDES 13 PERCENT PAY HIKE OVER 3 YEARS

YARD WORKERS AT TODD VOTING ON LABOR PACT PLAN INCLUDES 13 PERCENT PAY HIKE OVER 3 YEARS

About 2,300 workers at Todd Shipyards in Seattle today began returning ballots in a ratification vote on a proposed labor contract that would increase wages 13 percent over three years.

Executives for the Puget Sound Metal Trades Council, which represents a dozen unions with workers at Todd's Seattle yard, said the unions recommended approval of the agreement. Ballots are scheduled to be counted April 16.Todd, once the nation's largest privately held shipyard, today has yards only in Seattle and Galveston, Texas, and has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the past three years.

The company failed to win new jobs building Navy destroyers or cruisers after it wrapped up construction of a large number of Navy frigates.

Nate Ford, representative for the shipyard workers council, said many rank-and-file workers were unhappy with the proposed contract when it was presented at a membership meeting last week.

He noted, however, that many workers remember how Lockheed Shipbuilding Corp. closed its Seattle yard when workers were unable to agree on a new contract, and predicted that the Todd agreement would be approved.

The new contract would raise wages at from $13 an hour to $14.85 an hour. Benefits worth $3.31 an hour would be increased to $3.51 an hour by the end of the agreement.

Some Seattle shipyard workers said they had hoped for a larger pay increase because they accepted wage reductions three years ago to help keep Todd in business. The company agreed to start a profit-sharing plan when it

cut wages.

Todd employees said they have not received payments from that profit- sharing plan. Some contend profits made in Seattle were used to keep Todd's shipyard in Galveston in business.

A consultant recommended closure of that yard, but Todd executives have said they believe that yard once again could become a money-maker if oil prices rise and the petroleum industry starts to expand.

Todd's management, which earlier this year sold a profitable air equipment company in Ohio to help raise money, is proposing to emerge from bankruptcy by exchanging existing stock for new shares, issuing new bonds and paying off creditors in cash.

Union leaders said creditors could press for other action against Todd if shipyard workers reject the proposed contract, however.

Managers at Todd in Seattle could not be reached for comment about the tentative agreement.