BIW’s biggest union out on strike – Press Herald

22June 2020

Members of Regional S6 of the Machinists Union, which represents 4,300 of BIW’s 6,700 workers, march on strike Monday early morning in Bath. Derek Davis/Staff Professional Photographer BATH– More than 100 members of Bath

Iron Functions ‘biggest union picketed outside the shipyard Monday after a strike gone for 12:01 a.m., following weeks of unsuccessful agreement settlements in between the business and the union.

At issue are proposals including the hiring of subcontractors and changes to seniority at a time when shipyard production has fallen six months behind schedule. Regional S6 of the Machinists Union, which represents 4,300 of the business’s 6,700 staff members, declined a three-year contract proposal over the weekend. Of the 3,712 workers who cast tallies, 3,242 (a frustrating 87 percent)voted to strike, according to Andy O’Brien, Maine AFL-CIO interactions director. Ballot, held online and over phones throughout the weekend, wrapped up at midday Sunday

. In the proposed agreement, BIW wrote it wishes to the right to hire subcontractors “to overcome manning shortages, lack of devices, or centers,” however agreed it will not use subcontractors “to avoid employing staff members … or to get rid of a manning lack if there are uncontrolled layoffs in the appropriate trade.”

Tim Suitter, Resident S6 spokesperson, stated the company wishes to have the ability to work with subcontractors “without justifying its factors to the union,” as it does now, providing union officials little ability to keep track of making use of subcontractors.

Chris Wiers, Local S6 president, said agreement settlements can only resume after the business contacts Regional S6. Till that happens, the strike will continue. Since Morning morning, BIW had not called the union, Wiers stated.

In a statement provided after results were announced, BIW authorities said they were “disappointed by this outcome, but are prepared should a strike take place.”

“At this time, the company is focused on activating its service connection strategy,” BIW spokesperson David Hench composed Monday. “In the near-term, this includes continued shipyard production with salaried personnel and others reporting to work. The company and the union have actually not gone over returning to the bargaining table, and there presently is no timeframe for doing so.”

This is the first strike considering that 2000, which lasted 55 days.

Members of Regional S6 of the Machinists Union, which represents 4,300 of BWI’s 6,700 workers, form a picket line at the South Gate on Monday early morning in Bath. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer In a composed statement Monday, Gov. Janet Mills urged both BIW

and Regional S6 to”go back to the negotiating table, fix their differences, and reach an agreement, as difficult as that is. “”Bath Iron Functions is one of the largest employers in Maine, providing countless tasks to hardworking people and making it a crucial pillar of our economy,”Mills wrote. “[ Reaching an agreement] will ensure the stability of the shipyard’s operations in the short-and long-term, support its gifted workforce and their incomes, and keep its location as an economic motorist for the state.”

Senate President Troy Jackson wrote Monday he stands in solidarity with Local S6 members as they strike for fair salaries and policies.

“The hardworking males and females at BIW are just asking to be paid fairly for the work that they do,” Jackson wrote. “Today, BIW is investing more cash, taxpayer dollars I may include, to hire out-of-state employees to avoid paying their employees a decent wage.”

Production of BIW’s Arleigh Burke-class of guided-missile warships was already running 6 months behind prior to the strike.

“It makes good sense for the union to get the very best contract it can,” market analyst Loren Thompson, chief running officer of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, said in an interview Sunday evening. “But the truth is BIW needs to stay competitive to win future Navy agreements. If costs run expensive, the Navy will buy their ships elsewhere.”

Both analysts and union members considered how a strike would impact BIW’s future standing within the shipbuilding industry.

Wiers stated Sunday that voting members were standing up for excellent jobs for the Maine economy.

“We are happy to build the best ships in the world and we wish to keep it that way,” Wiers said in a statement. “We are defending great tasks for the Maine economy. We want tasks at the shipyard to be top quality jobs that members can make a decent living in over a long profession.”

BIW, a subsidiary of worldwide aerospace and defense business General Characteristics, pitched a three-year contract consisting of annual 3 percent pay increases, preserving present premiums on benefits consisting of 401(k) and life insurance coverage, however increasing health plan co-pays.

Members of the Regional S6 working out committee strolled down Washington Street in Bath on Monday morning to

start picket lines at the north and south entrances of the shipyard while union members cheered and chanted”Local 6. “The Times Record/ Kathleen O’Brien David Green, a BIW worker of 27 years, said the increase in health insurance co-pays alone is unacceptable.”My spouse has cancer and I bring her to her doctor’s visits in Boston regularly,”

he said.”Under the new agreement, we ‘d go from paying $125 out-of-pocket to $300 for each physicians see.”Numerous employees said the company has produced its own problems by using low salaries that qualified machinists do not be worthy of and will not accept.

“Veterans and college-educated employees with previous experience can’t take jobs here since they’re overqualified however the business offers them Grade 1 (or entry-level) pay,” stated Green.

The beginning per hour wage at BIW is $15.97, according to the last agreement between BIW and Local S6, which ended Monday early morning at 12:01 a.m. Maine’s minimum per hour wage is $12.

BIW required more liberty to hire subcontractors throughout when negotiating its last contract five years earlier, which the union since it could permit the shipyard to stay versatile while contending to win a $10.5 billion contract to develop Coast Guard cutters. The shipyard cautioned that losing on the contract could result in the elimination of 1,000 tasks. BIW eventually lost the cutter agreement.

Jeff Segars, a BIW tinsmith of 38 years, stated he lost his trust in the company following the 2015 contract settlements because it never laid off 1,000 workers after losing the cutter agreement and rather began a hiring push. Last year BIW employed 1,000 new workers and plans to match that number this year, according to Hench.

Segars stated he doesn’t rely on the company won’t replace longtime employees with less expensive subcontractors. He stated he ‘d vote to approve an agreement if BIW “repaired the language” relating to subcontracting and seniority.

“Many everybody is out here since of the language on the agreement rather than the economics,” stated Segars. “Of course you always desire better incomes, however most of us fear we’re going to lose tasks to out-of-state contractors.”

Stephen Steward, a BIW staff member of 33 years, said tensions in between the shipyard and the union have actually been installing because the last agreement settlements in 2015 when union members consented to accept a $2,500 yearly swelling sum bonus rather than an annual pay boost. However, union members aren’t willing to opt for a wage boost alone.

“If I authorized this contract, my entire department would be subcontracted out within three years,” he said. “Raises in the short-term don’t mean anything if we’re devoting occupational suicide for our members.”

In the week after BIW provided its offer for a brand-new contract, settlements hit an impasse. Prior to the polls opening over the weekend, both union and business leaders said they wanted to continue agreement negotiations, but neither celebration approached the other to make that happen. Both sides issued declarations saying they ‘d be willing to continue agreement talk with stave off a strike, however that obviously didn’t occur.

On Monday, automobiles handing down Washington Street, where BIW’s main center lies, beeped in uniformity as employees called bells and banged on metal. Many workers were collected at the Regional S6 union hall, throughout the street from the shipyard.

While raucous, today’s presentations have been tranquil. Authorities were stationed up and down Washington Street.

“Aside from a little bit of sound when the third shift discharge last night, everything has worked out far better than anticipated,” said Bath Deputy Police Chief Andy Booth. “If things can stay like this I’ll enjoy.”

Cynthia Phinney, president of Maine AFL-CIO, a state federation of labor unions, stated Sunday that Regional S6’s frustrating vote to strike “ought to send a crystal clear message to BIW management: Regard your employees, go back to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair agreement.”

“The union has actually had a hard time and negotiated over years to make these safe, quality jobs that Maine employees can survive in over a long career and make a good living,” Phinney stated. “BIW propositions roll back task quality, employee defenses and security. … All over this state and country the important people are rising to demand respect, justice and a fair share of the wealth we develop. The more comprehensive labor movement stands with the workers at BIW in their struggle for a fair contract.”

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