Union Calling for Federal Mediator
The Bath Iron Works Union is calling for a federal mediator to resolve its strike and allow workers to get back on the job. The strike currently affects more than 4000 members of the Machinists Union Local S6. They went on strike following their refusal of the company’s final proposal for a new contract.
According to representatives from the company and the union, both are open to re-opening negotiations but it has not happened yet. The call for a mediator’s assistance came from union officials and the company would have to agree to an attempt. The company did not respond immediately to the request.
Those familiar with the stalled negotiations claim the sticking points are related to work rules, seniority, and subcontractors. In most cases, contract disputes center around wages and benefits, but not in this situation. The company’s proposal was for three years and offered a three percent annual pay raise for employees.
Additionally, workers report being unhappy when the shipyard refused to shut down for two weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Production continued with increased cleaning and social distancing protocols in place. This was an option for the shipyard because it is a defense contractor and classified as an essential business.
So far, four workers at the shipyard have tested positive for the virus. Three of the four have since recovered and returned to work at the site.
The Bath shipyard is one of the Navy’s five largest facilities and employs more than 6800 workers in the state of Maine.