BATH, Maine — Joe Biden released a statement Wednesday urging the Bath Iron Works (BIW) to resume contract talks and make striking union members a "fair offer."
More than 4,300 of BIW's 6,700 shipbuilders went on strike at 12:01 a.m. Monday after contract negotiations were unsuccessful and 87 percent of voting union members voted to strike. The Local S6 of the Machinists Union is the largest union at BIW.
The former Vice President and likely Democratic nominee for president said, "Local S6 members work hard to ensure that our military have the tools they need to be successful."
"It’s up to us to make sure that those same workers have what they need to accomplish that for their own families. A job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity," Biden continued.
BIW's "last, best, and final offer" was unanimously rejected by the union. The union argued the proposal would allow the company more flexibility to hire subcontractors—which management says it needs to reduce its backlog of work—and would change how BIW is required to adhere to seniority.
Biden ended by saying, “I urge the Bath Iron Works to come back to the table to make a fair offer to the hardworking men and women.”
Striking union members have been supported in recent days by other high-profile political leaders in Maine, including Maine State Senate President Troy Jackson and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden. Gov. Janet Mills, Rep. Chellie Pingree, and Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins have also weighed in on the strike and urged negotiations to resume.
Golden wrote a letter to union workers saying he is, "100% in support of you on this picket line.
Company and union officials exchanged letters on Wednesday about potentially restarting negotiations but instead became further entrenched in their positions.
BIW said the company's position remains unchanged, but they are willing to work toward an agreement.