Union Awaits Invite to Resume Talks with Navy Shipbuilder

BATH, Maine — Shipbuilders striking against Bath Iron Works are ready to resume contract negotiations once there’s an invitation from the company, union officials said Tuesday, the second day of a walkout.

The next move is up to the Navy shipbuilder, said Tim Suitter, spokesman for Machinists Union Local S6, which represents 4,300 production workers. “We’re ready. We’re eager to get back to negotiations,” he said Tuesday.

A message was left Tuesday with the company.

The company’s final three-year contract proposal would have given production workers a 3% raise each year. But the shipbuilders’ union objected to the hiring of subcontractors and more than a dozen changes it considered to be concessions.

The vote by Machinists Union Local S6 was 87% in favor of a strike, and workers left their jobs Monday.

The last strike, in 2000, lasted 55 days.

Company officials said the shipyard was already six months behind on work, partly because of the pandemic. A prolonged strike would further delay delivery of destroyers, the workforce of the fleet, at a time of competition from the Chinese and Russian navies.

“We’re prepared to take as long as it takes. But obviously there is some urgency on our part with members being out of work and the Navy waiting on ships,” Suitter said. “We’d certainly like to get through it, and get a fair contact.”

Bath Iron Works is one of the Navy’s five largest shipbuilders and a major employer in Maine, with 6,800 workers.

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