Bath, ME – Members of UAW Local 3999 Bath Marine Draftsmen’s Association (BMDA) agreed over the weekend to extend their contract by one week and continue negotiations. A deadline to strike has been set for Monday, Sept. 25 upon expiration of the contract extension.
After weeks of negotiations, members voted against a final offer from the company on Saturday. On Sunday, members voted overwhelmingly to prepare for a strike if negotiations this week are not successful.
“While we continue to engage with the company to negotiate a better proposal for our members and their families, we are also making sure we are as prepared as possible for a strike,” said Local 3999 President Kirk Douglass.
A key issue for members is the company’s proposal to eliminate most of the flexible schedule benefit which, for 15 years, has allowed members the freedom to work while caring for their families. In addition to the continued negotiation over contractual items, the union believes there are unfair labor practice (ULP) issues that must be addressed.
Originally developed through a joint union and company effort, the flexible work schedule benefit has been recognized for its proven, positive impact by reducing lost time and providing the opportunity for members to work 40 hours of production each week.
Since the inception and implementation of the flexible work schedule benefit, member’s vacation and sick leave allowances have been eroded, resulting in the loss of up to 23 days of sick leave in the 2013 contract. At the same time, the benefit has expanded to allow more opportunity to work within the week and offset some of these losses.
The company’s proposal ignores the recognized, positive results of this benefit and drastically upends the family lives of members who have structured the last 15 years around this workplace benefit gained through good faith, collective bargaining where they gave up other benefits.
“Flexibility in the workplace has allowed members to balance the needs of their families including children, aging parents, and personal medical and health issues while designing some of the world’s finest Navy ships,” said UAW Region 9A Director Julie Kushner. “ UAW International fully supports the members of our Bath local as they fight to preserve these important work/family benefits.”
Local 3999 Vice President Trent Vellella agrees. “There are mechanisms in the existing contract language which allow for the union and the company to work together in order for the flexible work schedule to be effective for all parties. Over the last several years, the union has experienced four years of wage freezes and the loss of pension benefits for new members. The proposed elimination of this non-economic benefit now, given the recognized positive impact, makes no sense and would only harm morale and productivity.”
Local 3999 members continue to bargain with the company this week and hope to come to a satisfactory agreement that members will support. If not, UAW Local 3999 members have said loud and clear they are willing to strike to protect their family lives through this long-held workplace benefit.
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