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March 26, 2015

As BIW adapts for future, labor unrest boils over

Photo / Tim Greenway A 2014 file photo of Bath Iron Works.

Around 1,000 union workers at Bath Iron Works marched Tuesday in protest of a new policy that previously caused unrest among union workers 15 years ago.

The Bangor Daily News reported that the strained labor relations is happening as a result of BIW's efforts to cut down on costs in order to compete with other shipyards for future shipbuilding projects from the federal government.

As reported by Mainebiz, the need to stay competitive is underscored by a tightening federal defense budget and a projection that BIW may have to lay off 1,200 of its 5,700 workers when work on three DDG 1000 destroyers is completed in 2019.

Jay Wadleigh, president of Local S6 of the Machinists union, told the newspaper that BIW management is re-instituting a cross-training policy, which the union views as a way to push workers out of their job classifications, which would pit one group of union members against another.

BIW spokesman Matt Wickenheiser told the BDN that the policy is part of the shipyard's efforts to cut costs and put BIW in a position "to win U.S. Coast Guard work that would offset a decline in our existing workload." He said management has been discussing alternatives with the union and "seeking their input to ensure we have the best possible understanding of the opportunities and risks."

Source: Bangor Daily News

Read more

Decades of tide changes: Investments help Bath Iron Works maintain its shipbuilding prowess

The future is now: BIW shipyard looks to cut costs to win major Coast Guard contract

Union sues BIW over job description changes

Court sides with BIW in union dispute

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