Brothers and Sisters,
On Tuesday, December 1st, 2020, Local Lodge S6 was formally notified in writing of Bath Iron Works’ intent to enter into the Joint Agreement Process. The notice focused on Bath Iron Works’ need to continue using targeted subcontracting beyond December 31st, 2020. While the Union is disappointed and frustrated with receiving this notification, we are obligated to follow the negotiated language of the CBA as per article 39; Joint Agreement Process, which we fought for and successfully maintained. When Local Lodge S6 received this notification we immediately reached out to the President of BIW; Dirk Lesko. After a lengthy dialogue, it became apparent that Bath Iron Works wants to continue targeted subcontracting.
Mr. Lesko went on to cite several contributing factors that led to the unfortunate decision to extend subcontracting. He spoke at length on the many challenges the Joint Schedule Recovery Committee has been addressing. To date, we have been getting through many issues to regain schedule and are heading in the right direction, but the US Navy has reiterated their need for Navy ships to be delivered on time and on schedule. Mr. Lesko praised the work the parties have been able to achieve collectively. He emphasized his commitment to continue hiring as fast as possible while reducing subcontractors as fast as possible so that no subcontractors remain. Mr. Lesko continued to stress that he would prefer to hire in lieu of subcontracting. He provided a significant amount of data to justify his need for subcontracting while expressing his disappointment with having to make that decision. One example Mr. Lesko provided was that over the past year Bath Iron Works hired 850 employees but lost 858 employees due to attrition. That’s a net loss of (8) eight mechanics. Local Lodge S6 is committed to fully representing its members and ensuring subcontractors are not in our shipyard.
Bath Iron Works’ statement to the Union is they are trying to grow the business to have over 5,000 mechanics to support a (2) two-ship a year shipyard. This would give Bath Iron Works the ability to seek new additional work. If Bath Iron Works simply moves mechanics to different departments internally, they do not grow the business. If this is not done, Bath Iron Works will inevitably lay off mechanics where it doesn’t need the manning for a (1) one-ship a year shipyard, which doesn’t help anyone. Additionally, hiring is the most important thing we need to collectively focus on. Many senior mechanics will be retiring next year, along with a worldwide pandemic placing restrictions on just about everything, the focus is clear.
We will continue to scrutinize Bath Iron Works’ need for subcontracting while helping to recover schedule. The Union is currently in a position in which communication and collaboration with Bath Iron Works are hard to imagine considering our history. However, we are moving forward as we need to continue regaining the schedule to achieve a build rate of (2) two ships a year. We have a window of opportunity to positions ourselves for the future. We share a desired outcome but have different ideologies on how to get there. The Joint Schedule Recovery Committee process is currently working in the right direction. We are committed to this but will always keep our guard up as it pertains to the use of subcontracting. Article 39 of the CBA provides us that avenue.
The Unions focus will be to get subcontractors out of our shipyard as quickly as possible. We will be taking all the provided information and seeking advice from two separate attorneys the Local Lodge retains to assist in arbitrations. We will update our membership as we get feedback from our legal counsel, and will pursue all remedies through our collective bargaining agreement. If any member would like additional information the Local Lodge will provide it as requested.
Local S6 Leadership