A three-year contract deal between Bath Iron Works and its largest union, Machinists Union Local S6, that ended a nine-week strike this weekend spurred an outpouring of congratulations for both workers and the shipyard from Maine politicians – and from the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Congratulations to the hard working members of Local S6 on approving a new contract that ensures they have a voice in their workplace, employment security, and a good future for Maine jobs,” Biden said in a statement Sunday. “Their inspiring show of solidarity and integrity forged a better and more equitable agreement for themselves and their families.”

Biden, who accepted the presidential nomination from his party last week, said he is proud to stand with union members as they get back to building ships that keep the U.S. Navy and its service members safe.

“In standing up for what is right, the Local S6 members showed the power of their collective voice and the power of unions to ensure workers get a fair return for their work,” Biden said.

A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee in Maine and New Hampshire as well as a spokeswoman for the Maine Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment Sunday night on the BIW union vote. But President Trump, in a tweet that he posted Aug. 10 after the two sides reached a tentative agreement, said he was glad to have helped resolve the labor dispute. It remains unclear what role the White House played in bringing the sides together, although a federal mediator was involved.

Sen. Angus King, Maine’s junior senator, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, applauded the deal in a statement Sunday afternoon.

“I’m heartened to see that the parties involved have recommitted themselves to the overarching mission of the yard of delivering exemplary ships to the Navy on time and on budget, strengthening protections for this unparalleled workforce, and helping to ensure that the shipyard continues to play a vital part in America’s national security,” King said. “On behalf of the state and nation, I’m grateful for their work and stand ready to support BIW’s critical efforts to keep America safe.”

Republican Sen. Susan Collins expressed appreciation for the agreement in a statement Sunday evening.

“I’m glad that both sides were able to work together to resolve their differences with the help of a federal mediator,” said Collins. “Now that an agreement has been reached, BIW employees can return to building the best ships in the world for our Navy.”

Collins serves as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

“I will continue to support the workers at BIW by advocating for contracts that keep our shipbuilders employed, securing funding for infrastructure improvements that enhance jobs and position the shipyard for growth, and pushing to expand the size of our Navy fleet,” Collins added.

Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, will face off against Collins in the Nov. 3 general election for the Senate seat.

“Members of Local S6 raised their voices together for a fair contract, and that’s what they achieved,” Gideon said in a tweet Sunday. “Bath-built is best-built is a testament to the workers at BIW, and this contract fairly recognizes that work and supports the next generation of Maine shipbuilders.”

“I was proud to stand in solidarity with Local S6 throughout the strike, and I will continue to fight for hardworking Mainers and their families,” Gideon said.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, said she was “thrilled” that the deal had garnered significant support from union membership, adding that she would do “everything in my power” to back the shipyard and its workers.

“I am thrilled to hear that such a large percentage of the union members at Local S6 have voted to support this new contract,” she said in a statement. “For 136 years, Bath Iron Works has built the finest ships in the world, made of wood and iron, then steel and fiber optics. But those materials didn’t build the vessels. It was the men and women of this community who did – learning a trade, applying their skills, and passing down the tradition from generation to generation. The renowned products of this shipyard are the result of the sweat and skill of the people who provide the labor, making them the finest shipyard workers in the world.”

In a letter to union members Saturday, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, congratulated them for their resolve, and said union members around the country were watching and taking heart from their struggle.

“What you all have demonstrated on the picket lines, in meetings, and throughout this strike is the power of unions and working people to stand up for what’s right,” he said in the letter, which a spokesman shared with the Portland Press Herald.

“I will continue to fight for you and BIW in Congress,” Golden said.


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