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Business and Economy

Amid Strike, BIW Says It Will Bring In Subcontractors To Avoid Falling Further Behind On Production

Willis Ryder Arnold
Maine Public File

Bath Iron Works says it plans to bring in more subcontractors to avoid falling further behind on production during a strike.

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

Local S6 spokesperson Tim Suitter says subcontractors are not the answer for getting ships delivered to the Navy on time.

"They want the flexibility to just take people and disrupt their daily life, take their workers and disrupt their daily life on any given day so they can throw bodies over here and bodies over there, and all they're doing is putting out fires. That’s not how BIW has succeeded in the past, and it's certainly not how we're going to succeed in the future.”

Suitter says he believes the company no longer wants to have to get union approval to hire non-union workers.

“They say that the process is too long. We could look at the process. You can do things there, but that process is outlined because they have to be able to justify why they need to bring in subcontractors, and, when they can't, they get frustrated.”

In a memo, BIW President Dirk Lesko says subcontracting will not put union jobs at risk.

The company and Machinists Union Local S6 are entering into federal mediation next week in hopes of getting back to the bargaining table.