By Paul Kurtz

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Upwards of 200 local blue-collar workers held a protest today outside the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard, in South Philadelphia.

The coalition of union and  nonunion workers chanted and held placards in a boisterous, 15-minute rally against Aker’s hiring practices.

“Aker Navy Shipyard took 42 million dollars in Pennsylvania grant money, no strings attached, and instead of keeping that money in the state they’re using it to pay workers from Alabama and Florida and Georgia and Tennessee because they’ll work cheap, without health insurance, and it’s unfair and it’s unethical,” said Frank Keel, a spokesman for the coalition that calls itself “Local People, Local Jobs.”

The grant money that Keel refers to, offered in 2010, kept the financially beleaguered firm afloat.

Joining the protesters today was US Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.), who said he is scheduled a sit down in Washington, DC next week with Aker management.

“I don’t know whether it’s financial,” Brady said today.  “I don’t know what the issue may be, but we gotta solve that. We’re not going to go crazy and go to the wall for them when they don’t go to the wall for our local people.”

Aker did not respond to our phone calls requesting a response.

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