Shipyard, Largest Union Reach Deal
BATH, Maine (AP) _ Striking shipbuilders must prepare for a long strike if they reject a tentative agreement reached by negotiators for the union and Bath Iron Works, the local union president said.
Rock Grenier, president of Local S6 of the Machinists union, said the proposed pact is the best that union negotiators could do to bring a quick resolution to the weeklong strike by 4,800 workers.
``We feel that to get any more will be a long fight,″ Grenier said.
Both sides said the proposed agreement addresses the major concerns of union members, who voted to strike Sunday, but some workers reacted angrily as details trickled out and they learned that wages would not be increased over the previous offer.
They chanted ``Strike! Strike! Strike!″ as Grenier and negotiator Tony Provost explained details from the roof of the union hall. A vote on the proposed contract will be held Sunday morning.
Workers also shouted ``eight, seven, seven,″ a reference to the wage increases they’re seeking: 8 percent this year, 7 percent next year and 7 percent in 2002. That would be double the raises included in the tentative agreement.
The accord would also increase signing bonuses to $750, and workers would not be required to perform tasks outside their usual areas in times of layoffs.
``I believe that we addressed the issue that the majority of the members raised to the committee,″ union negotiator Dale Hartford said.
Bath Iron Works viewed the agreement as ``fair and equitable,″ said shipyard spokeswoman Susan Pierter in a statement.
The company said the offer would boost wages and benefits from $41,000 to $48,000 a year, but workers called those figures misleading. They said the average salary, excluding benefits, is $32,000.
``With this kind of raise, I can’t even afford a new jumpsuit,″ said Robert Washington, an Elvis impersonator who works at the yard.
On the Net:
Bath Iron Works: http://www.biw.com
Machinists union: http://www.iamaw.org