Bath Iron Works, a General Dynamics company, and its employees have failed to reach a negotiation agreement on a recent contract. This has led to, for the first time in 20 years, the shipbuilder's biggest union to strike.

According to the Kennebec Journal, the existing contract ran out over the weekend allowing the members of Local S6 Machinists Union to vote whether or not to strike. When the votes were counted, an astonishing 87% of the members voted yes, that they would strike.

The Local S6 Machinists Union makes up about 4,300 employees of Bath Iron Works' 6,700 workers. Much of the division between employee and employer has been from the company subcontracting work out. Current employees say that the company should be giving all work to actual employees of the company and not contracting it out to other companies. BIW says they would much prefer to keep the work 'in house' but a lack of skilled workforce has prevented them from being able to do so.

Also in the most recent contract proposal from Bath Iron Works was increased healthcare co-pays, maintaining existing 401k and life insurance premiums and annual 3% pay increases.

The Local S6 Union does not know how long they will have to strike for, though leaders say they are prepared to strike for as long as it takes to get what they consider to be a fair contract for all employees. Bath Iron Works says they are "disappointed" in the decision to strike but say they are "prepared" for it.

We will have continuing coverage on the situation at BIW as well as periodic live video from the picket lines.

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