Local S6 members approve 3-year pact with BIW, ending monthslong strike

Published: Aug. 23, 2020 at 3:47 PM EDT
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BATH, Maine (WMTW)

Strking workers at Bath Iron Works have approved a three-year contract after months of striking.

The strike at the Maine shipyard ended with Sunday’s announcement of the Machinists Union Local S6′s voting results.

According to the union, the 4,300 shipbuilders they represent will begin returning to work Monday. The stakes were high for both a company that fears being priced out of lucrative Navy contracts and workers who didn’t want to give up ground to subcontractors. The workers lost company-paid insurance and wages during the strike that coincided with the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal mediators helped both sides reach a tentative agreement. Local S6 received the contract in the mail and were able to vote online from Friday until noon on Sunday.

“This strike was a testament to the culmination of Local S6 leadership, our negotiating committee and the incredible power of solidarity shown by our membership,” said IAM Local S6 President Chris Wiers. “Now that we successfully protected our contract language with respect to subcontracting and seniority, we need to get back to work and continue to prove to the U.S. Navy that ‘S6 built is best built.’”

The IAM Local S6 negotiating committee unanimously recommended the improved agreement to the membership.

The company is eager to get caught up on production of destroyers as the U.S. Navy faces growing competition from China and Russia on the high seas.

Bath Iron Works issued the following statement:

“We are pleased to welcome back our valued manufacturing employees and get back to the important work of building ships on schedule for the U.S. Navy. This contract reflects the commitment of all BIW employees to improve schedule performance and the economic package ensures that manufacturing careers at BIW continue to be among the very best in Maine. As we move forward to deliver on our commitments to the U.S. Navy and meet our obligations as part of this nation’s critical infrastructure, we must do so together, on time, every time.”

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