March 12, 2010

Bath Iron Works to lay off 179 workers

JOHN RICHARDSON

— By

Staff Writer

Bath Iron Works announced Thursday that it will lay off 179 union workers later this month, the largest job cut in at least three years.

The company notified union leaders Thursday, saying the cuts will take effect Jan. 23 and affect workers in 11 different job classifications. The jobs to be cut included 40 shipfitters, 23 tinsmiths, 20 electricians and 19 welders.

Individual workers affected by the layoff will be determined by seniority and notified no later than next week, said shipyard spokesman Jim DeMartini. Some of the workers may be able to shift into other jobs, he said.

''We're going to continue to work between now and the 23rd of January with the union to see if we can find other work in the shipyard for some of these folks,'' DeMartini said.

''That's a big chunk out of that community. That's a lot of income out of that community,'' said John Carr, spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, BIW's largest union.

''January and February (layoffs) are just not good for anybody in any community. The timing is unfortunate, but I don't know that there would ever be a good time.''

The shipyard, which has 5,700 workers, is reducing its work force because of a gap in the workload as the Navy's DDG-51 destroyer program winds down and production of the next-generation DDG-1000 destroyer gets started. At least some workers could be recalled as the DDG-1000 ramps up, although it's not clear how soon.

''We just see it as an unfortunate part of shipbuilding. You see these fluctuations,'' DeMartini said. ''We still have four DDG-51s in the shipyard, and will hopefully be ramping up on the DDG-1000 in the next several months. Beyond that, I can't speculate.''

Carr said union representatives would bring in counselors who can help with unemployment benefits or job searches. The union also was renewing pressure on federal officials to speed up the orders of new destroyers, he said. ''We're going to use every means available to us,'' he said.

Bath Iron Works is a subsidiary of General Dynamics, which makes tanks, submarines, warships and Gulfstream jets.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@pressherald.com

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