Shipyard union: ‘No realistic offer’ to return to the table

BATH, Maine (AP) — The union striking against Bath Iron Works said Friday there has been “no realistic offer” to return to negotiations but that it’s willing to take a seat at the bargaining table if the shipbuilder is willing to talk about issues that are important to the union.

“If BIW truly wants to get back to the table and work through all the issues, not just the ones BIW wants to talk about, the union is agreeable to do that,” Machinists Union Local S6 said in a statement.

About 4,300 shipbuilders went on strike Monday after overwhelmingly rejecting the company’s final offer. The issues of contention had more to do with subcontractors, work rules and seniority than with wages and benefits. The company’s three-year proposal would have given shipbuilders annual 3% pay raises.

The company said it remains open to further discussions, possibly with a federal mediator, but said in a letter to the union that both sides appeared to be entrenched on key issues.

“At this time, the company cannot comment on when negotiations might resume,” spokesman David Hench said.

The pickets have been noisy but peaceful for the most part. Police, however, were investigating an incident Wednesday evening in which a striking worker was hit by a slow-moving vehicle that was exiting the shipyard.

A video showed pickets surrounding the vehicle, and police said they do not expect charges to be filed. No one was injured.

Bath Iron Works, which is a subsidiary of defense contractor General Dynamics, is one of the Navy’s five largest shipbuilders. It’s also a major employer in Maine with 6,800 workers.

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