m-bathbiw-011609 BIW lays off 179 employees

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BATH — Bath Iron Works’ production union was notified Jan. 8 that the shipyard would be laying off 179 employees effective Jan. 23, BIW spokesman Jim DeMartini said
The personnel affected work in 11 trades in Local S6, BIW’s largest union: tinsmiths, outside machinists, pipe coverers, painters, shipfitters, pipe fitters, welders, sandblasters, electricians, machinists and material handlers, DeMartini said.
He said the layoffs are prompted by workload fluctuations at the shipyard, resulting in too many employees working within some trades for the amount of near-term work BIW can provide.
DeMartini said BIW will work with Local S6 between now and Jan. 23 to look for production work for some of the people who are losing jobs.
“The 179 number will likely change, but I can’t speculate on how much,” he explained, adding that the shipyard has already begun some advanced production on the first DDG-1000 vessel, “and we expect to be ramping up production efforts over the next several months. That could create a situation where we may be looking to recall some of these employees. But the near-term situation is what’s driving this action at this time.”
BIW’s total employment is about 5,700, DeMartini said. He declined to speculate about the possibility of additional job cuts, explaining that “the process of balancing our resources against the work we must accomplish is a constant effort, the results of which are always subject to change.”
Looking to continued tough economic times ahead, DeMartini said, “the best we can do in light of our particular business environment is to continue to perform well on the Navy work we already have. As we’ve said many times before, performance equals opportunity. Consistently demonstrating solid performance will allow us to continue to work with our Navy customer and also seek other more nontraditional customers in our search for additional work.
“Ours is a tough industry,” he added, “but we continue to firmly believe that the key to obtaining new work is strong, demonstrated performance on what work we have in front of us.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.
A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.