Following a week-long contract extension, Bath Iron Works and the Bath Marine Draftsmen’s Association averted a planned strike by reaching an agreement on a new, multi-year contract that will continue through March 2022.

“The General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and BMDA agreement was ratified by employees on Saturday,” said shipyard spokesman David Hench. “The company is pleased to have an agreement.”

The union and the company reached a tentative agreement Friday night, with union membership approving it at a meeting Saturday morning and avoiding a strike authorized by the BMDA a little over a week ago.

Negotiations continued through Friday, a mediator was brought in to assist, and an agreement was ratified Saturday afternoon, according to Hench.

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.

BMDA is part of the United Automobile Workers and represents 750 BIW employees. The union represents technical designers at the shipyard, where two stealth Zumwaltclass destroyers and four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are currently under construction.

“Nearly 78 percent of members voted in favor of the contract by a vote of 414 to 117,” according to a statement issued Saturday by the UAW. “The 4 1/2-year contract contains a strong economic package while preserving and strengthening the workplace flexibility language that was at issue.”

Sticking points

The issued referred to by UAW was a flexible workweek provision. The previous contract allowed union members to shift from a traditional five-day workweek with eight-hour days to a four-day workweek with 10- hour days, 15 weeks out of the year.

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.

With some adjustments on the margins, the new contract will allow workers to go to a four-day workweek eight weeks out of the year.

“While we recognize that this (agreement) is not perfect, and it’s not what any of us wanted when we entered into these negotiations, we believe it represents a significant improvement from what we were facing last week,” said the union’s negotiating committee in a statement Friday. “It has good economics and preserves a level of workplace flexibility that would otherwise have been eliminated.”

The new flexible workweek provision will go into effect in April.

TIMES RECORD Staff Writer Nathan Strout and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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