Union President Rallies Strikers as Mediation Talks Continue for Bath Machinists
Thursday, September, 3, 2020
The international president of the Machinists union encouraged Bath Iron Works workers to stay strong as mediation talks continue. Robert Martinez Jr. accused the shipyard of “corporate greed” and told workers “there is no way in hell we are backing down from this fight.”
Martinez declared the strike by the shipyard workers to be the largest in the country at the moment and told the workers that “the eyes of the nation” are watching them. The group that attended Martinez’s rally included workers, as well as spouses and children of workers. The group marched together in unity to express their support of the strike, which began June 22nd.
The strike came after 4300 workers rejected the proposal submitted to the union by the Bath Iron Works company. The sticking points had to do with work rules, seniority, and subcontractors. Benefits and wages were also a concern, but less so because the company had offered a three percent raise per year in each of the years included in the contract to workers. The union is also upset the company hired “scab” workers to do the work of the employees while they are not working during the strike.
The two sides have been meeting with a federal mediator separately since the strike began, but there have been no in-person negotiations during that time.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins was asked by colleagues to press the company to return to the negotiating table, but Collins wants to see if mediation can offer a resolution without government interference. Collins said via a spokesperson that she hopes the two groups can quickly resolve their differences and get back to work, so they can “continue to deliver much-needed ships to our Navy.”