Maine shipyard workers are officially on strike

Thousands of union workers at Bath Iron Works are officially on strike. Picket lines formed outside the shipyard early Monday after the strike began at midnight.The contract for Machinists Local S6 expired at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Union membership voted on the last contract offer from General Dynamics over the weekend. The union, which represents roughly 65% of BIW workers, says the contract was rejected and that 87% of its members voted to authorize the strike.Dozens of people were already picketing and holding signs in multiple spots around the shipyard early Monday morning. That number had grown to well over 100 by 6:30 a.m.Police and shipyard security both arrived on scene early Monday to help maintain order and traffic flow.”We are proud to build the best ships in the world and we want to keep it that way,” said Local S6 President Chris Wiers. “We are fighting for good jobs for the Maine economy. We want jobs at the shipyard to be high quality jobs that members can earn a decent living in over a long career. We are adamantly opposed to BIW’s demands to rollback worker protections and job quality standards, to massively increase subcontracting and to gut the language in our contract that makes these decent, safe jobs. We will stand together until we get the respect and the fair contract that we deserve.””I’ll go without the money for a couple weeks or months or however long it takes,” said Stephen Riddle, who was on the picket lines on Monday. “For the long run, it’s really gonna hurt the people coming in here, the new hires.”General Dynamics, the parent organization of Bath Iron Works, issued a statement on its website acknowledging the decision, adding: “We obviously are disappointed by this result, but are prepared should a strike occur. BIW will be making additional information available to its employees in the near-term so they can plan accordingly.”The union did post a list of rules for workers to follow while picketing including that they only picket in areas assigned by leadership and that they only hold signs provided by the union. They were also told to not block any entrances or exits to the shipyard and to not interfere with anyone entering or leaving. A WMTW crew in Bath reporting on the strike observed that many picketers were not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing. Masks were a big issue for the union when the coronavirus outbreak began with the union calling on the shipyard to provide more.The last strike at BIW was in 2000 and lasted for 55 days.

Thousands of union workers at Bath Iron Works are officially on strike. Picket lines formed outside the shipyard early Monday after the strike began at midnight.

The contract for Machinists Local S6 expired at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Union membership voted on the last contract offer from General Dynamics over the weekend. The union, which represents roughly 65% of BIW workers, says the contract was rejected and that 87% of its members voted to authorize the strike.

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Dozens of people were already picketing and holding signs in multiple spots around the shipyard early Monday morning. That number had grown to well over 100 by 6:30 a.m.

Police and shipyard security both arrived on scene early Monday to help maintain order and traffic flow.

“We are proud to build the best ships in the world and we want to keep it that way,” said Local S6 President Chris Wiers. “We are fighting for good jobs for the Maine economy. We want jobs at the shipyard to be high quality jobs that members can earn a decent living in over a long career. We are adamantly opposed to BIW’s demands to rollback worker protections and job quality standards, to massively increase subcontracting and to gut the language in our contract that makes these decent, safe jobs. We will stand together until we get the respect and the fair contract that we deserve.”

“I’ll go without the money for a couple weeks or months or however long it takes,” said Stephen Riddle, who was on the picket lines on Monday. “For the long run, it’s really gonna hurt the people coming in here, the new hires.”

General Dynamics, the parent organization of Bath Iron Works, issued a statement on its website acknowledging the decision, adding: “We obviously are disappointed by this result, but are prepared should a strike occur. BIW will be making additional information available to its employees in the near-term so they can plan accordingly.”

The union did post a list of rules for workers to follow while picketing including that they only picket in areas assigned by leadership and that they only hold signs provided by the union. They were also told to not block any entrances or exits to the shipyard and to not interfere with anyone entering or leaving.

A WMTW crew in Bath reporting on the strike observed that many picketers were not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing. Masks were a big issue for the union when the coronavirus outbreak began with the union calling on the shipyard to provide more.

The last strike at BIW was in 2000 and lasted for 55 days.