The largest union at Bath Iron Works will vote simultaneously this week on management’s final contract offer and on a possible strike, a union representative said Sunday.

Union members agreed to significant concessions during a negotiation cycle in 2015, “and now they’re really sticking it to us,” said George Edwards, assistant directing business representative for the Machinists Union District 4 Lodge.

Bath Iron Works President Dirk Lesko Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The union is concerned in part about seniority privileges and the hiring of subcontractors, but in a letter to members on Saturday, BIW’s president emphasized the pressures facing the shipyard, including a backlog of work.

The district lodge is a union branch that includes Machinists Union Local S6, which represents 4,300 of the shipyard’s 6,700 employees and concluded its final day of negotiations Friday night over a new three-year contract.

Edwards said union members will be voting on whether to accept the company’s “last, best and final” offer, which includes some wage increases over three years, or to strike. Though the votes are simultaneous, Edwards said, it’s extremely likely the union will choose either to accept the offer or to strike.

According to Bath Iron Works spokesman David Hench, the vote will open on Friday and finish at noon Sunday.

Company representatives and members of Machinists Union Local S6 negotiated late into Friday night without an agreement. On Saturday afternoon, the company made its final offer, which includes wage increases for all employees each year of the three-year proposal.

From June 22, 2020, until May 14, 2023, employees would receive 3 percent general wage increases annually. The proposal offers modest increases to pension contribution rates and accident and sickness benefits, but also calls for increases to health plan premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

The local branch’s negotiation committee rejected the offer in a fiery Facebook post Saturday, saying they gave it a “(expletive) NO endorsement.” But the members of the union local will have the final say.

Even more than the proposed health plan increases, union members objected to the company’s plans to hire more subcontractors and take away some seniority privileges for workers, Edwards said.

The union local’s president, Chris Wiers, and spokesman, Tim Suitter, didn’t respond to phone messages Saturday or Sunday.

On Sunday, Hench, the BIW spokesman, provided a copy of a letter to workers from the company’s president, Dirk Lesko, in which he explained the pressures facing the shipyard. A backlog of work has coincided with the need to train a class of new mechanics, he said.

“We remain committed to growing and training our workforce, but doing so will take time,” Lesko said in the letter, dated Saturday. “The reality is that we need to recover schedule now, in large part by making the most of the people and other resources we have available to us.”

“Although we seem to agree that change is needed for this shipyard to survive and compete into the future, we could not agree on what it will take to get us there,” Lesko said of the contract negotiations with the union.

The current contract was extended for a month because of the coronavirus pandemic; it is scheduled to expire on June 21.

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