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Only 41 percent of Bath Iron Works’ employees clocked in for their shift Tuesday morning, a day after the first positive coronavirus case at the shipyard was made public by owner General Dynamics, the head of the largest union said.
“If one quarter of the mechanics [on shift now] are working productively, we would be lucky,” said Chris Wiers, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Locals S6.
General Dynamics, the Bath shipyard’s parent company, said Sunday that the employee was last at work in the main yard on March 13.
Wiers said workers from nine departments are being called on to clean and sanitize work areas rather than do their regular jobs in the shipyard.
Wiers was on a videoconference call with Jessica Chubbuck-Goodwin, president of IAMAW Local S7, and House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport this morning talking about conditions at the shipyard.
The union heads have asked that the shipyard be closed and employees be allowed to go home with pay.
A group of 17 Maine Democrats called for the Trump administration to extend shipbuilding deadlines for BIW, saying it is no longer safe for the shipyard to maintain normal operations during the coronavirus outbreak.
Gideon and Senate President Troy Jackson, along with 15 other legislative Democrats, in a letter sent last Wednesday asked Maine’s congressional delegation to “do all in your power” to convince the Trump administration to extend those deadlines by “at least an additional six months, or by as long as a national emergency declaration is in place.”
In a memo last Tuesday, General Dynamics said the U.S. Navy confirmed the Bath shipyard was considered “critical infrastructure” under White House guidance that directed defense contractors to continue to operate normally in the interest of national security.