The strike by Bath Iron Works’ largest union was noisy overnight Monday, with police receiving 30 complaints from locals, but city police said Tuesday that they have only issued warnings after working issues out with picketers.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local S6 posted on its Facebook page Tuesday morning that police were stopping drivers who honked horns and warning them that they would be fined $150 if caught again.
The post encouraged strikers to blast horns on Washington Street in Bath, which runs in front of the shipyard but has residential neighborhoods behind it. Among the 75 comments on the post was one saying picketers should take a ticket and “flood the court system” to tie up police.
The union, which has about 4,400 of the total 6,600 workers at the Navy shipyard, voted Sunday afternoon to reject a three-year contract and to strike for the first time in 20 years.
Jay Wadleigh, former president of Local S6 and the business representative for the union’s regional parent, said he was going to have the Facebook post taken down.
“We’re squared away with the police now,” he said. “It’s OK to honk but not at night.”
Deputy Chief Andrew Booth of the Bath police said there were 30 overnight complaints about people driving up Washington Street blaring horns the whole way.
“People were honking horns, burning rubber and yelling at 2 a.m., which is unreasonable,” he said, because police also have to protect residents. He said it is not clear if the noise-makers were picketers, supporters or both.
Booth said police talked about the noise with union President Chris Wiers and “things are good, but it’s blowing up on Facebook.” So far, police have only handed out warnings, but repeat offenders may get a ticket.
The union and police have been collaborating since before the strike to make sure the public is safe, he said. So far the strike has been manageable, with slight traffic delays.
That’s a far cry from the last strike by the union in 2000, when picketers blocked roads and yelled obscenities, Booth said. The union learned a lot of lessons from the strike in 2000, which lasted 59 days, Wadleigh said.
Angry workers piled up copies of the company’s latest contract proposal and set them on fire, according to a CBS News report at the time. Wadleigh said there also were signs with derogatory language, which isn’t the case now.
This time, the union had a strike committee in place months before the strike started. The strike was planned and has a permit from the city. Picketers have access to tents, water and food.
So far, the union and BIW have not resumed contract negotiations. Wadleigh said he talked to a federal mediator early today but has not heard if that person talked to BIW yet.