BIW Workers Sign off on New Labor Deal, Head Back To Work

August 24, 2020 1:35 PM
Undated Photo of worker at General Dynamic-Bath Iron Works shipyard. BIW Photo

The striking employees at General Dynamics Bath Iron Works voted to support a deal with the shipbuilder and have gone back to work, according to the yard and the union.

Both the local union chapter and the shipbuilder announced over the weekend that union members took a vote and backed the accord, expected to last for three years, putting an end to the two-month strike.

In a post to its website, the Local S6 chapter of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said 87 percent of its members voted to support the agreement with the shipbuilder.

“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,” Chris Wiers, the president of the local union chapter, said in a statement.
“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,’” Wiers added.

The employees and shipyard struck a preliminary deal earlier this month after partaking in mediation proceedings. The union launched the strike on June 22 after failing to come to an agreement over BIW’s subcontracting practices and the issue of seniority.

BIW contended that in order to tackle the workload at the yard, it needed the leeway to subcontract when necessary and allot duties to employees that may be out of the scope of their usual tasks. But the union argued that using subcontractors removes jobs from its members and conveyed fears that re-allocating certain assignments may impact seniority for members.

“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,” BIW said in a company statement. “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.”

BIW is currently building the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and working to finish constructing the last destroyer in the Navy’s Zumwalt class.

USNI News previously reported that the backlog at the Maine yard, projected at six months by BIW president Dirk Lesko earlier this year, was nearing one year because of the strike and the coronavirus pandemic.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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