Maine shipyard draftsmen approve contract, avoid strike

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BRUNSWICK (AP) — The union representing 750 employees at Bath Iron Works approved a contract Saturday, avoiding a strike that was set to begin after the stroke of midnight.

Bath Marine Draftsmen’s Association Local 3999 authorized a strike last weekend. Negotiations continued through Friday, a mediator was brought in to assist, and an agreement was ratified Saturday afternoon, shipyard spokesman David Hench said.

The shipyard is “pleased to have an agreement,” Hench said in a statement.

The union, part of the United Autoworkers, represents technical designers at the shipyard, where two stealth Zumwalt-class destroyers and four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are currently under construction.

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The Navy shipbuilder proposed pay increases and more paid time off and retirement benefits.

Its proposal to cut flex time benefits, which allow workers to vary their hours over the course of a 40-hour week, was a major sticking point. Workers said flex time makes it possible for them to care for sick family members since they lost 23 days of sick leave and vacation time in the last contract in 2013.

Members of Local S6, although not allowed to join the strike, planned to show support for the draftsmen and join the picket line, union president Mike Keenan said.

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