The leader of the largest union at Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works says workers are ready to strike if the company doesn’t come back with a suitable offer this month.
Machinists Union Local S6 accused the company of trying to create a “workforce of poorly paid subcontractors” and taking steps to push 1,200 workers with more than 30 years of service into early retirement.
The current contract covering the 4,300 Local S6 members expires at midnight on June 21.
The union contends it made concessions during the last negotiations to make the shipyard competitive to win Coast Guard contracts, but that never happened. Instead, the company has gone “backward, falling further and further behind,” the union said in a statement.
“If BIW doesn’t cease its union-busting tactics and come back to the table with a suitable offer, our membership will likely have no other option but to strike. The last thing we want is a strike, but we are prepared to do so if needed,” Local S6 President Chris Wiers said in a statement.
A company spokesperson had no immediate comment.
The company previously said it is hiring more than 1,000 workers this year but still needs help from contractors to try to keep on schedule. Currently, about half of the workforce has fewer than five years of experience.
The shipyard’s president, Dirk Lesko, has warned that if the shipyard falls behind schedule it won’t be in a position to win new contracts.
The shipyard lost out on a lucrative contract to build Navy frigates because of “our current shipyard schedule performance,” he wrote in a May 27 letter.