Shipyard, Largest Union Reach Deal
BATH, Maine (AP) _ Negotiators for Bath Iron Works and its largest union tentatively agreed on new contract Thursday morning after all-night talks.
A vote to end the strike by 4,800 shipbuilders will be held Sunday, negotiators said. Workers were expected to maintain picket lines until midnight Thursday.
Both sides said the proposed agreement addresses the major concerns of union members, who voted to strike Sunday, but some workers seemed enraged as details trickled out and they learned that wages would not be increased over the previous offer.
``Strike! Strike! Strike!″ workers chanted as local union President Rock Grenier and negotiator Tony Provost explained the details from the roof of the union hall, across the street from the shipyard.
Workers also chanted ``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 company’s offer.
``We’re trying to gather some of those lost cost-of-living increases we haven’t seen in six years,″ said Dan Ouellette, a pipefitter.
Under the tentative agreement, workers would be required to perform tasks in other areas, but the number of hours were limited. The policy would not apply to job categories affected by layoffs.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said the agreement was crafted to provide job security, but with enough flexibility to satisfy the company.
``I believe that we addressed the issue that the majority of the members raised to the committee,″ union negotiator Dale Hartford said. ``We hope everyone shows up to vote on Sunday and that they take a good hard look at the proposal.″
The company said the offer would boost wages and benefits from $41,000 to $48,000 a year, but workers said the figures were misleading. They said the average salary, excluding benefits, is $32,000.
The agreement came after members of the draftsmen’s union, the shipyard’s second-largest with 800 workers, voted Wednesday to join striking shipbuilders in a sympathy strike. That vote must be approved by the national union, the United Auto Workers, which oversees the draftsmen’s union.
On the Net:
Bath Iron Works: http://www.biw.com
Machinists union: http://www.iamaw.org