Electric Boat Strike Negotiations End Without Contract Resolution
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Three days of marathon contract negotiations ended Friday night without a resolution to the 3-month-old strike at the Electric Boat shipyard in Groton, Conn., a manufacturer of Navy nuclear submarines.
Labor and company negotiators met with federal mediators in Washington for about 30 hours since Wednesday, but could not reach an accord to end the wage dispute. Friday was day 99 of the strike.
Officials at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said they would be in contact with both parties, but no further negotiating sessions were set.
Representatives from the sub-building division of General Dynamics Corp. said they reoffered their previous proposal, a four-year contract with bonuses and a one-time 3 percent wage increase.
The Metal Trades Council, an umbrella group representing all the striking unions, had said it wanted a three-year contract with 4 percent raises in at least the second and third years.
In a prepared statement, the company said, ″It appears that this unnecessary and illegal strike will continue indefinitely as will the hiring of permanent replacements.″
The bargaining sessions with the mediation service were the first major negotiations since another round of federally mediated talks broke off in August without an agreement.
Hopes were high that the strike would be settled this week as pressure mounted on the union.
More than 1,500 of the original 10,000 striking workers have crossed picket lines and returned to work.
And a key union, the Boilermakers International, told the Metal Trades Council that it wanted the strike settled immediately, fearing the job action may be declared illegal. Electric Boat could fire striking workers if the strike is found to be illegal.
A National Labor Relations Board official has questioned the strike’s legality because it did not receive a strike notification 30 days in advance from the Metal Trades Council as required by law. The union sent the notification to the wrong address.
MTC officials have said they believe the strike is legal because they notified federal officials orally of the strike plan.
Electric Boat is the Navy’s sole producer of the giant Trident nuclear submarines and competes annually with the Newport News (Va.) Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. for contracts to build the smaller, SSN-688 fast attack subs.
The company said it needs to hold down labor costs to remain competitive for Navy submarine contracts.
Electric Boat, one of New England’s largest employers, normally has 18,000 workers at the Groton plant and another 6,000 at its North Kingstown, R.I., facility. The Rhode Island workers did not strike.