Bath Iron Works to temporarily lay off workers as union strike continues

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 4:29 PM EDT
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Bath Iron Works announced Tuesday that the company is temporarily laying off some of its workers as a strike involving the shipyard's largest union continues.

More than 4,000 members of the shipyard's largest union, Machinists Local S6, have been on strike since June 22.

In a letter to employees, BIW president Dirk Lesko said the layoffs will involve members of another union, Local S7.

"While we have explored all available options to reassign impacted employees to other jobs, unfortunately no such opportunities are available," Lesko said.

Lesko said BIW will first start by offering temporary layoffs to Local S7 surveyors and trades inspectors. If there are not enough volunteers, the company will move to involuntary layoffs based on seniority.

"While these layoffs are temporary in nature, their impact on employees and their families is real and immediate. At a time when we are behind schedule, it is frustrating to be sending our employees home. However, the disruption of the strike leaves no other option," Lesko said.

Local S6 spokesman Tim Suitter said the letter from Lesko is an attack.

When they (BIW) keep wanting to throw the anti union rhetoric around, and continue to blame the workers, instead of going back and looking to come through a contract. So we can get back to work building ships for the United State Navy," Suitter said.

The negotiating committee for Local S6 was scheduled to meet with a federal mediator Monday, and a meeting between the mediator and the company is expected later in the week.

The labor dispute focuses more on work rules, seniority and subcontractors than on the company's wage and benefits proposal. Workers would've received pay raises of 3% per year.

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