Union Officials: Susan Collins Ad Falsely Implies She Helped End BIW Strike

Oct 14, 2020

The Maine AFL-CIO and the State Council of Machinists are calling on Susan Collins’ campaign to take down an ad the organizations say is false and misleading.

In the ad, several members of Bath Iron Works’ Local S6 praise Collins, and imply that she helped end the union’s acrimonious nine-week strike this summer.

“Without ships there are no jobs, and Susan got us ships. Susan Collins came down to the strike line and talked to us, and got us back to work,” the ad says. “Susan cares about our union brothers and sisters.”

But Maine AFL-CIO executive director Matt Schlobohm says Collins did little to end the strike.

“Collins, in spite of repeated requests from the union at BIW, did not support workers on strike, refused to get involved, and did not take a position to resolve a fair contract,” he says. “They know exactly what they’re doing and they’re trying to be disingenuous with the Maine people and they’re trying to take credit for something they had nothing to do with, and refused to take an active role.”

Schlobohm also says Collins took substantial political contributions from BIW’s senior management and that of BIW’s parent company General Dynamics, in the period leading up to the strike.

In a statement, both the AFL-CIO and the State Council of Machinists say Senate candidate and Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon worked hard to help resolve the strike — and both have endorsed Gideon.

Local S6, which was on strike this summer at BIW, has not endorsed a candidate. In 2014 the union endorsed Collins.

In an emailed statement, Collins spokesperson Annie Clark defended the ad and Collins' record with the shipyard.

"The workers who were in the ad contacted the Collins campaign themselves and said that they would like to do an ad on behalf of the Senator. The words are their own," she said. "Before and during the strike Senator Collins had many personal discussions with members of BIW management and urged both sides to seek compromise and to use the services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to help resolve differences and find a solution."

Updated 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, with response from Collins spokesperson.