San Diego Naval Shipyard - Naval Base History


  The San Diego Shipyard, or as it is officially known, Naval Base San Diego, is the Navy's largest installation on the West Coast and the United States. It serves as home port to the Pacific Fleet.  Far more than a shipyard or repair station, its closest approximation is the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, on the East Coast.                 

  In 1918, the land where the Naval Base now stands was occupied by a loose coalition of shipbuilding and repair firms known collectively as the Emergency Fleet Corporation. By the end of World War I, Pacific Marine (owner of the corporation) was losing money and the Navy was looking for a small tract of land to locate a ship repair yard. By 1920, the Navy and Emergency Fleet Corporation had negotiated a deal to transfer land improvements to the Navy, but there were roadblocks in the way. Without the threat by the Navy to take its business elsewhere, the San Diego Naval Base would not have been  constructed at all.

  In June 1920, Congress earmarked $750,000 for the naval repair base. Admiral Roger Welles grew weary of the tug of war between companies who were trying to eke out more profit from the deal, and he threatened to establish the repair base at San Pedro, California instead. However, on February 21, 1921, Welles took formal custody of the property. A year later, on February 23, 1922, Teddy Roosevelt Jr., acting Secretary of the Navy, issued General Order 78 establishing the facility as the U.S. Destroyer Base, San Diego.

  The Destroyer Base grew rapidly in its first few years. The repair facilities decommissioned 77 ships and commissioned seven in 1924 alone. In addition, the navy established torpedo and radio schools at the facilities and built more shops at the site.

  World War II brought further expansion to the base. The shrewd foresight of city fathers had now created far more than a shipyard at the facility. By 1942, the naval base included training facilities, a naval hospital, ship repair facilities, and many other amenities and services. The base was headed toward its present day form as a multi-service facility for naval operations. The addition of an amphibious training unit and the expansion of the fleet training schools forced the Navy to recognize that the scope of operations at Destroyer Base, San Diego had far exceeded its basic function. It was re-designated as U.S. Repair Base, San Diego, which was the name by which it was known for throughout the rest of World War II.

  From 1943 to 1945, the navy shipyard at the newly designated repair base had converted, overhauled, performed maintenance, and repaired battle damage to more than 5,100 U.S. Navy ships. Among the maintenance operations performed at the naval base was the construction and delivery of 155 floating dry docks. Many of those were delivered to various bases, and at least seven remained at San Diego. Those floating dry docks became the major repair and training facilities on the base.

  On September 15, 1946, the Repair Base was once again reorganized and given a new mission - to provide logistical support, including dry-docking and repair, to ships of the active fleet. The base was renamed Naval Station, San Diego. By the end of that year, the base consisted of nearly 300 buildings with square footage of nearly 7 million feet. The berthing facilities included five piers with more than 18,000 feet of berthing space. The base had expanded to include more than 920 acres, and could accommodate over 21,000 men between officers and enlisted men.

  With the war at its end, funding was tight, and the Navy again considered closing the Naval Station, San Diego. Once again, the City of San Diego launched a campaign to support and retain the Navy base. The local chamber of commerce commissioned a report, which highlighted the benefits of the San Diego Naval Station. The Navy turned its attention to Long Beach Naval Shipyard instead, and temporarily closed the Long Beach facilities.

  The Korean War and the ensuing years brought further expansion to the San Diego Naval Station. In the early 1950s, the station grew to more than 1,100 acres and supported a regular workforce of 14,000 employees.  The Naval Station became the homeport of the U.S. Pacific Fleet when the Long Beach Naval Shipyard was permanently closed in 1994. Naval Station San Diego became one of a trio of Navy bases that made up the bulk of the navy's Pacific presence.

  Today, Naval Base San Diego is homeport to numerous U.S. Navy ships, two Coast Guard cutters, and many research and auxiliary vessels. It is also home to more than 100 separate commands, multiple kinds of Navy Support facilities, and is the workplace of nearly 40,000 Federal Employees.


Did you know your union was one of the first government unions to be formed? Here is some historical information about IFPTE and the first Local One?

  The Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) is the U.S. Navy’s oldest shipyard and, in actuality, pre-dates the Navy itself by 31 years.  Also the largest naval base in the world, Norfolk had its start as the Gosport Shipyard during Colonial times, until its name was changed in 1862. 

Amazingly, this location has built ships for 9 major wars, employing literally millions of workers. Scientific exploration ships have also been built here.  One of the NNSY’s most famous ships was the USS Chesapeake, constructed in the early years of the shipyard, between 1794 and 1799.  During the Civil War, Confederate employees converted the famous USS Merrimack into the USS Virginia after its battle with the Monitor.   

In the years just prior to World War I, the United States was establishing itself as a world power, Teddy Roosevelt had built the U,S, Navy into a strong fleet, and shipyards were busy, It was a time when blue-collar trade unions - some already three decades old - were beginning to negotiate better wages and working conditions, yet, in spite of the success of blue-collar workers in organizing and negotiating contracts during this period, white-collar workers were slow to assert themselves, 

The word went out to the shipyards, Workers in the appropriate jurisdiction were suffering from overwork and underpay, While organized mechanics were making excellent wages and premium overtime, "white-collar workers", including technical engineers and draftsmen, were receiving substandard wages, fancy titles pats on the back from the boss, and the opportunity to work plenty of overtime with no additional pay, White collar positions were paid less than blue collar and the normal required work day was from sunrise to sunset,

The United States had declared war on Germany on April 6, almost six months before, U-boats were sinking allied shipping at an alarming rate, In reaction to this, draftsmen and others were being worked unmercifully, but not being paid for their work, When the new organization named a grievance committee to call on the shipyard operators, they were told, in effect, that it was the Navy department's headache; they should discuss their grievances with the government, since the yards were now operating under government control,

When the grievance committee arrived in Washington, D,C,, it was ushered into the office of a young Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D, Roosevelt, He listened to their complaints and, to their delight, said that he agreed with them totally, An agreement was quickly reached which assured members of Draftsmen Union No, 15327 of time and a half for overtime in excess of eight hours a day,

The overwhelming success of this first meeting forcibly brought home to white-collar engineers and draftsmen the need for united action, Draftsmen in numerous private and government yards rushed to form local unions of their own, But there was still no national coordinating machinery, Six months before the armistice of World war I, a meeting was called in Washington, D,C, (May 19, 1918) to consider the formation of a national organization, The A,F, of L, granted a charter to the draftsmen on July 1, 1918, in the name of the International Federation of Draftsmen's Unions, Charter locals included: Local 1, Portsmouth, Virginia; Local 2, New York, New York; Local 3, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Local 4, Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Local 5, Newport, Rhode Island; Local 6, Charleston, South Carolina; Local 7, Quincy, Massachusetts; Local 8, Vallejo, California; and Local 12, Bremerton, Washington, and Local 32, San Diego, California.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of all for IFPTE has been its success in proving, in the hearts and minds of white-collar membership, that a union is not demanding but is uplifting, the individuals do not surrender their rights, they multiply and solidify them, Membership in a trade union does not obliterate, nor conflict with loyalty to an employer, It makes it more meaningful and permanent.

History of IFPTE Local 32
In 1997, employees of Fleet Technical Support Center Pacific (FTSCPAC) in San Diego began the movement to form a federal union. FTSCPAC was created by the merge of Mobile Technical Unit FIVE (MOTU FIVE) and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEACENPAC). The formation of IFPTE was spearheaded by Don Kopriva and others from Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, CA, who transferred to FTSCPAC after the Base Closures Act of 1993.

Employees of FTSCPAC voted for representation and the IFPTE Local 32 bargaining unit was born. IFPTE Local 32 would represent federal employees of FTSCPAC in San Diego and at the FTSCPAC detachments in Everett, WA and Pearl Harbor, HI.

After formation, the By-Laws were drafted by Mark Wood, Alan Azimi, Ray Harrison and Don Kopriva. Labor/management agreements were created to improve working conditions for the employees of FTSCPAC. Don Kopriva acted as President until the first election in which Mark Woods was elected President by the members of Local 32. After achieving numerous improvements in working conditions for the bargaining unit, Mark Woods resigned as Local 32 President in early 1999, prior to his retirement in 2000.

At the second election, Alan Azimi was elected President and Ray Harrison was elected Vice President. Alan served as President four months and left office when he was promoted to a GS-13 supervisory position. Ray Harrison assumed the responsibilities of President with Frank Rodriguez as Vice President. Three month later, Ray Harrison resigned for health reasons and later retired. Frank Rodriguez took on the responsibilities of President and appointed Gloria Woodley as Vice President, two months later Frank Rodriguez resigned and Gloria Woodley assumed the responsibilities of President of Local 32 and appointed Frank Rodriguez as Vice President.

In November, 2004, SWRMC was officially established and FTSCPAC, Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity (SIMA), Consolidated Divers Unit (CDU), and Supervisor of Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP) were disestablished.

AFGE Local 3723 had represented the Boat Repair Facility at SIMA since the early 1980's. It was exclusively blue collar work force, which worked around fiberglass and spray painting operations. AFGE 3723 was able to improve working conditions and establish a standard for protective equipment and environment pay. AFGE 3723 also helped set up a rough but effective transition for all of the Boat Repair employees into SWRMC.

The first President at SIMA AFGE Local 3723 was Pat O'Brien. Later Union Officers were Frank Dodder, Chuck Fenton, Darryl Kolbe, Calvin Smith. The last AFGE President at SIMA was Doug Perry.

A consolidation election was conducted by the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to determine which union, AFGE Local 3723 or IFPTE Local 32, would provide exclusive representation for the employees of SWRMC. IFPTE Local 32 won the election. AFGE Local 3723 continued to represent federal employees at Command Navy Region Southwest and the Navy Exchange.

Gloria Woodley continued as president of IFPTE Local 32. Frank Rodriguez retired in 2008 and John Oberster was appointed to the responsibilities of Vice-President of IFPTE Local 32. Gloria Woodley resigned in 2009 and John Oberster took over the Local 32 President responsibilities. He held the interm position until an official union election" was held.

In May 2010, Thomas L. Watson was elected as President and Barbara "Bobbie" Rogers was elected as Vice- President. Tom Watson was the Vice-President of IFPTE Local One at SCRMC in Ingleside, TX, and transferred to SWRMC during the Base Closures Act of 2005. Bobbie Rogers worked at SUPSHIP and AFGE 3723.

Major changes to our Union and IFPTE Local 32 were put into place, by the new Officers and the Executive Board to make our Union totally transparent to our membership:
* Negotiated the first Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, at SWRMC, on April 8, 2010. * Established more training for our Union officers and posted all of our Union documents online on the SWRMC homepage.
* Established a Union Membership Email Distribution System to keep our membership knowledgeable on conditions of employment, pay and benefits.
* Established a Labor/ Management Partnership under Executive Order 13522 Creating Labor-Management Forums to Improve Delivery of Government Services, and a Memo of Agreement, MOA, with management to meet on a weekly basis.
* Signed a Memo of Agreement, MOA, to becoming Star Certified under the Voluntary Protection Program of OSHA with SWRMC.
* Marketed our Union by creating a website, a logo contest for our shirts, hats, cups, lanyards, mouse pads, brochures , and catered Monthly Union meetings to increase our membership ,which has increased almost 25% since 2010.
* Opened two Union Offices in Bldg. 76 Rm. 136 and 137 for Union business, and our membership.
* By Laws where changed to require that an election be held after a president leaves office, prior to the end of the election term.

The next two year election cycle for our Local 32 Union Officers will be in May 2016. We encourage all interested members to consider running for this challenging office as President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary. These positions automatically allow them to become an active member of the Executive Board of Directors for IFPTE Local 32.