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Bath Iron Works union hires attorney as company negotiates subcontractors

Local S6 of the Machinists' Union said conversations about the proposal to bring subcontractors into the shipyard continue.

BATH, Maine — Leaders of the largest union at Bath Iron Works have hired an attorney as discussions continue with the company about the proposal to bring subcontractors into the shipyard.

On Tuesday, union leaders posted "Leadership Alert #8: Manufactured Crisis," on the Local S6 Facebook page.

The alert notes that district union leaders met Thursday, November 21, with senior leaders of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers about the subcontracting proposal.

As a result, Local S6 is scheduling "a high-level meeting" to include national, local and district leadership, and BIW officials.

The union is also developing a plan to educate the public about "the effect of bringing in out-of-state contractors to perform jobs done by union members," the alert states.

Finally, meetings with local, state and federal politicians will be scheduled to "secure support" for the union.

Credit: NCM

Bath Iron Works has said it plans to hire 1,000 employees in 2020, after hiring that many in 2019.

The company has aggressively recruited during the past year and now pays potential employees a $500 weekly stipend to attend a free, three-week program that trains them to be welders and manufacturing technicians. 

The hiring push comes with 12 destroyers already under contract at the shipyard and just as the company bids on an entire class of 20 frigates for the U.S. Navy.

RELATED: With 12 destroyers in the queue, BIW undertakes 'tremendous hiring effort'

But members of BIW’s largest union say the company’s reported struggle to hire as many as 1,000 workers by the end of 2020 is disingenuous and masks a different agenda: a proposal to bring subcontractors into the shipyard for the first time in some 30 years.

One employee, Dick Doyle, told NEWS CENTER Maine earlier this month that the union is working under the worst contract in all of his 42 years, but that the company continues to hammer employees – now pushing to bring subcontractors in to do what has for years been union work.

“The company wants to try to subcontact jobs and I understand why they’re doing it, but our employees can do the jobs that they’re asking for,” Doyle said. "If we let them, let BIW have the chance of having subcontracting, there won’t be any jobs. They’ll just start doing that forever."

RELATED: BIW offers stipends for entry-level manufacturing courses

RELATED: Maine shipyard union approves four-year, no-raise contract

"The company continues to make millions and millions of dollars … we made big money for General Dynamics," he said. "They need to understand they’re only as good as their workforce."

The final Zumwalt-class "stealth" destroyer, the future USS Lyndon B Johnson (DDG 1002), was christened in April, and the future USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118) was christened at the Bath shipyard in June.

Also under construction are four  Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, the future USS Carl M. Levin (DDG 120), the future USS John Basilone (DDG 122), the future USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG 124) and the future USS Patrick Gallagher (DDG 127). The future USS Louis H. Wilson Jr. (DDG 126) and 5 additional Arleigh Burke destroyers awarded under a September 2018 multi-year procurement are not yet under construction.

Bath Iron Works did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Tuesday.