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NEWS | Sept. 6, 2022

Federal Painter Wage Grade Standardization at All Four Navy Shipyards

By Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications

WASHINGTON – Federal painters across all four public shipyards will soon have the same wage potential after the top tier wage grade for the positions was set to WG-10.

Previously, federal painter positions at some shipyards had a top tier wage grade of WG-9.

The effort to standardize wage potential was led by the Naval Sustainment System  – Shipyards (NSS-SY) People Pillar and required the coordination of the public shipyards, the Fleet and Defense Civilian Human Resource Offices. The wage-grade increase will affect approximately 145 shipyard painters who are eligible for competitive promotions and expand career growth opportunities for skilled tradespeople. The adjustment is scheduled to happen in September 2022.

“This is an important win for the People Pillar,” explained Rear Adm. Scott Brown, NSS-SY’s People Pillar lead. “NSS-SY is focused on delivering submarines and aircraft carriers out of maintenance availabilities on-time, every time. Foundational to that is ensuring our production and engineering professionals have what they need to do their job in a safe and efficient manner. Ensuring our top performers are paid appropriately not only rewards their years of dedicated service, but allows us to retain our senior tradespeople who can train and mentor our newest employees.”

This is the first increase for top-tiered federal painters in 60 years.

“The paints and coatings we use now require significantly more training and expertise than what we had when the wage grade system was established,” shared Brown. “Being a painter in a naval shipyard requires our people to be equal parts technical expert and artist.”

Modern coatings work to preserve metal surfaces exposed to the sea water and their application must be done with specific environmental controls that account for heat and humidity and applied within thousandths of an inch to ensure proper adhesion and protection of the surfaces.

“People are our number one priority, and everything we do within the NSS-SY construct is focused on ensuring our skilled shipyard personnel have what they need to do their job,” said Ms. Giao Phan, NAVSEA’s executive director. “We need to pay our people what they’re worth, and this is a real step toward that ultimate goal.”

The People Pillar is taking a holistic look at the current wage grade compensation scale with the ultimate goal of bringing it up to industry standards.

“We’re working with the Office of Personal Management to conduct wage surveys at the four shipyards,” said Brown. “Once we have that we’ll be able to determine what is required to ensure our skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen are paid equal to their counterparts in private industry.”

“Ensuring our people are paid properly is second only to their safety, and it is a very close second,” said Vice Adm. Bill Galinis, NAVSEA commander. “I have had the opportunity to share what we are doing in this area with members of Congress, specifically the recently formed Congressional Public Shipyard Caucus, and will continue to do so as our plans mature so we can properly compensate and retain our people.”

About the Naval Sustainment System – Shipyards (NSS-SY)

NSS-SY is a business and process improvement effort designed to increase the on-time delivery of submarines and aircraft carriers at the four public shipyards: Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine; Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia; Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Washington; and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Hawaii. NSS-SY encompasses nine focus areas, called pillars, affecting systematic change throughout the lifecycle of naval warships maintenance and modernization.

The NSS-SY People Pillar (formerly Resourcing Pillar) is focused on optimizing trade skills, mechanics, and support billets to maximize productivity which includes creating retention incentives and trade career paths for the shipyard trades workforce.