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BIW Strike Enters Week 2 As Contract Negotiations Stall

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
A striking shipbuilder walks outside Bath Iron Works, Monday, June 22, 2020, in Bath, Maine.

As the strike at Bath Iron Works enters its second week, negotiations have yet to resume between the company and its largest union.

The strike — the first in 20 years at BIW — comes after members of the yard’s largest union, Local S6, rejected a contract offer that they say would threaten the seniority rights of longtime workers and continue to allow subcontractors into the shipyard.

The company has said those subcontractors are necessary and would only be brought in “to overcome manning shortages, lack of equipment, or facilities.”

Union spokesperson Tim Suitter says since the strike began last Monday, Local S6 has exchanged correspondence with BIW, but he says the company has yet to reconsider its positions on the subcontracting and seniority issues.

“We’ve proposed multiple ways to get around the issues at the shipyard. Those just fall on deaf ears,” he says.

Suitter says he’s hoping that recent correspondence between BIW parent company General Dynamics and the president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers can bring the sides closer to an agreement.

“Hopefully, a little bit of correspondence between the CEO of General Dynamics and our International President will help set that into some sort of framework. So we can get back to the table and discuss real options to come to a contract, so we can get back to building ships,” he says.

BIW did not offer comment on Monday. But in a statement last week, the company said that federal mediation assistance remained a possibility.