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Agreement ends shipyard strike.

A 99-day strike against Bath Iron Works Corp. ended when members of Local 6 of the Marine and Shipbuilding Workers ratified a 34-1/2-month contract. The drawn-out struggle resulted because the shipyard was seeking labor cost reductions it said were necessary to compete effectively against lower cost foreign yards, while the 4,500 workers were seeking economic gains they contended were warranted by their performance and Bath's profitability. The three Bath yards, located in Maine, and other U.S. shipyards are essentially limited to competing for construction of ships for the U.S. Navy because of the intense competition from the foreign yards. According to the Shipbuilders Council of America, only five large commercial vessels have been built in the U.S. since 1981, when the Federal Government stopped subsidizing production of commercial vessels.

The Bath accord, which was a compromise, does not provide for any increases in hourly pay rates, which range up to $11.47, but the employees received immediate $1,000 lump-sum payments, to be followed by $500 payments in December of 1986 and 1987. They will also receive $200 payments for each 6 months of perfect attendance.

A type of two-tier system was adopted, under which new employees will start at $3 an hour below the top rate for their job and move to the top rate in three steps at 1-year intervals. Previously, employees started at 50 cents below the top rate and moved to the top rate in a single step after 35 working days.

Other terms included employee payment of part of the premium cost for medical insurance (previously, Bath had paid the entire amount) and 4 days paid annual sick leave (previously, 3 days).
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Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Dec 1, 1985
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