Members of IAM Local S6 are back at work at shipbuilder GD Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, after voting 87% to ratify a three-year collective bargaining agreement. Union members started back at work beginning with the third shift on Sunday, August 23.
The union says that the approved contract includes strong job protections against expanded subcontracting and preserves seniority rights, the two top issues that forced members to reject the company’s previous offer and begin the strike nearly 10 weeks ago on June 22.
“IAM Local S6 has shown the world that together working people can stand up and win for themselves, their families and their communities,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “This fight for dignity, justice and good Maine jobs will go down in the history books of the Machinists Union and all of organized labor. I could not be more proud of our IAM Local S6 membership and negotiating committee, District 4 representatives, Eastern Territory staff and everyone who stood with the IAM and the best shipbuilders in the world. We are also grateful for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and Director Richard Giacolone for helping us get this agreement resolved.”
Federal mediators helped both sides reach a tentative agreement on Aug. 7. IAM Local S6 members received the contract in the mail and voted online and by telephone from 12:01 a.m., Friday, Aug. 21 to noon, Sunday, Aug. 23.
“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,” said IAM Local S6 President Chris Wiers. “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.’”
“We are pleased to welcome back our valued manufacturing employees and get back to the important work of building ships on schedule for the U.S. Navy,” said a Bath Iron Work statement. “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. 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.”