I am writing to respond to Davies Allan’s Sept. 21 letter to the editor, “BIW contract loss should be a wake-up call on union rules.”

First, what background, knowledge or experience does Mr. Allan have in shipbuilding that informs his perspective on this subject? I have worked at Bath Iron Works for 42 years.

Shipbuilding is a complex process involving thousands of skilled workers and several million man hours to build an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. It requires materials, planning, equipment and management, all of which are reflected in contract bids.

Our union negotiated a labor contract that included a four-year wage freeze and efficiency gains in order to try to win these Coast Guard contracts. Production workers at BIW have been represented by a labor union since June 1941.

Union shipyard workers at BIW produced more destroyers during the war than all of Japan. Since then, union workers have built cargo ships, tankers, roll-on roll-off ships and Navy cruisers and overhauled dozens of ships, including Coast Guard cutters.

Two dozen FFG-7 frigates were delivered to the Navy ahead of schedule and under budget. Thirty-four Arleigh Burke destroyers have been built, and the most advanced surface combatant in the world, USS Zumwalt, just sailed down the Kennebec to join the fleet.

We don’t need Mr. Allan’s bumper sticker anti-union slogans and insults to the best shipbuilders in the world. We are working hard every day to create and save our jobs. What are you doing, Mr. Allan?

John Portela


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