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Shipbuilder, striking workers to head to bargaining table

July 31, 2020 GMT

BATH, Maine (AP) — Navy shipbuilder Bath Iron Works and the union representing striking workers will head back to the negotiating table for the first time since a strike began more than a month ago, a union official said Friday.

Both parties will participate in a session on Monday with a federal mediator, Jay Wadleigh, district business representative for the Machinists union, told The Associated Press.

About 4,300 production workers represented by Machinists Local S6 went on strike June 22 after overwhelmingly rejecting the company’s contract in dispute that’s primarily centered on subcontractors, work rules and seniority, while wages and benefits are a secondary concern.

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The company’s final offer that was rejected called for a three-year contract with pay raises of 3% in each year.

The decision to call both parties to the table suggests the mediator found some common ground on disputed issues.

Wadleigh called the return to the table “a step in the right direction.” A spokesman for Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, confirmed the resumption of talks but declined further comment.

Bath Iron Works is one of the Navy’s largest shipbuilders and a major employer in Maine, with 6,800 workers.

The strike, with workers losing company-funded insurance during a pandemic, threatens to put the shipyard further behind schedule in delivering destroyers at a time of growing competition from China and Russia.

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