Shipyard, union reach tentative deal to end strike in Maine

FILE - Striking Bath Iron Works shipbuilders march in solidarity, Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Bath, Maine.  The union representing striking production workers says a tentative agreement was reached with Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works to end a strike that stretched for more than a month during a global pandemic. The agreement announced on Saturday, Aug. 8,  will be put forth to the 4,300 members of Machinists Local S6 for approval. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)
FILE - Striking Bath Iron Works shipbuilders march in solidarity, Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Bath, Maine. The union representing striking production workers says a tentative agreement was reached with Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works to end a strike that stretched for more than a month during a global pandemic. The agreement announced on Saturday, Aug. 8, will be put forth to the 4,300 members of Machinists Local S6 for approval. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works and production workers reached a tentative agreement to end a strike that has stretched on for more than a month during a pandemic, officials announced Saturday.

The proposal, which was unanimously endorsed by the union's negotiating team, will be put forth to the 4,300 members of Machinists Local S6 later this month, said Jay Wadleigh, a district union official.

A federal mediator helped to bring the two sides together on subcontracting, seniority and work rules. The tentative agreement, reached late Friday, retains the company’s proposal for annual wage increases of 3% over three years, along with some health care improvements, Wadleigh said.

“It preserves our subcontracting process, protects seniority provisions and calls for a collaborative effort to get back on schedule,” he said.

The tentative agreement positions the shipyard and workers “to partner together to improve schedule performance, restore the yard’s competitiveness and ensure ‘Bath Built’ remains ‘Best Built’ for generations to come,” said Dirk Lesko, the shipyard's president, referencing the shipyard slogan “Bath built is best built.”

Voting on the proposal will take place online and via telephone from Aug. 21-23.

Production workers went on strike June 22 after overwhelmingly rejecting the company’s final offer. The strike dragged on for more than six weeks against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic — during which workers lost their company-paid insurance — and an election year in which some politicians sought to get involved on behalf of workers.

Frustration at the shipyard — a subsidiary of General Dynamics that builds guided-missile destroyers for the U.S. Navy — had been building among workers since the last contract in which the Machinists accepted concessions that were deemed necessary to win a U.S. Coast Guard contract — and save shipbuilding jobs.