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BIW union asking for federal mediator to step in and help with the differences

The Local S6 members and General Dynamics, owner of Bath Iron Works, have not had much luck finding common ground

BATH, Maine — The union representing striking workers at Bath Iron Works has requested the assistance of a federal mediator, an official said Thursday.

More than 4,000 members of Machinists Union Local S6 went on strike Monday after rejecting the company’s final proposal.

Both the company and the union said they’re open to resuming negotiations, but that hadn’t happened as of Thursday.

The request for a mediator’s help was made by the union on Tuesday, but the company would have to agree to mediation, said Jay Wadleigh, a district business representative for the Machinists union.

There was no immediate comment from the company.

The issues of contention have more to do with subcontractors, work rules and seniority than wages and benefits. The company’s three-year proposal would have given shipbuilders annual 3% pay raises.

At 12:01 A.M. on Monday, hundreds of workers at Bath Iron Works walked off the job, to begin striking. Members of BIW's largest Union Local S6 voted over the weekend to reject the latest contract offer from the shipyard and begin to strike. 

The contract officially ended at midnight Sunday into Monday. According to Local S6, 87% of voting Union members voted to strike. 

"We are proud to build the best ships in the world and we want to keep it that way. We are fighting for good jobs for the Maine economy," said Local S6 president Chris Wiers in a statement. "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 roll back worker protections and job quality standards, to massively increase subcontracting and to gut the language in our contract that makes these decent, safe jobs."

The shipyard is one of the Navy’s five largest shipbuilders and a major employer in Maine with 6,800 workers.

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