With a payroll of more than $350 million, Bath Iron Works is critical to our state’s economy. It employs more than 6,000 people and supports families and businesses in all sixteen of Maine’s counties.
As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Susan Collins has secured more than $16 billion for shipbuilding at BIW since 2009. The fact is – no one fights harder for these men and women than Senator Collins.
Recently, Senator Collins’ campaign released a new TV ad featuring some of the men and women who work at BIW who, in their own words, praise the Senator for her work on their behalf. This apparently doesn’t sit well with union leadership at Maine AFL-CIO, or Sara Gideon, who is seeking to replace Senator Collins. They have gone so far as to say that the workers who appear in the ad are lying. That says a lot about the campaign that Sara Gideon is running.
Here’s the truth. The workers who are in our ad contacted our campaign themselves and said that they would like to be in an ad supporting Senator Collins. The words are their own. They were unscripted and spoke from the heart about the support that Senator Collins has always shown for the working men and women at the shipyard.
Prior to the strike that occurred this summer, Senator Collins met with local union leaders at her federal office. She also visited with union leadership and members at the union hall in Bath. Also, prior to the strike, Senator Collins urged all involved to do everything possible to avoid a strike.
After the strike was called, Senator Collins went to the picket line to show her support for the workers and their families. During the strike, she had many personal phone calls with striking workers, listening to them about their concerns.
In addition, before and during the strike, Senator Collins had many personal discussions with members of BIW management and urged both sides to seek compromise and to use the services of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to help resolve differences and find a solution. That’s what a leader does.
Don’t believe me or the BIW workers in the Senator Collins’ ad? Then this is what Dugan Shipway, former president of BIW, wrote this week in the Portland Press Herald, "In my opinion Sen. Collins has never failed BIW, nor has she failed the families and friends of those over 6,000 workers at our yard. There also is no doubt in my mind who is better for BIW, not just the company BIW, but also the BIW family: those many thousands of active and retired workers and their families located across the state."
It's true that Senator Collins enjoys the support of many rank and file workers at the shipyard and she continues to be inspired by the contribution that they make each and every day to the defense of our country. She has stood up for them, and she appreciates that they are willing to stand up for her.
Kevin Kelley is Deputy Campaign Manager for Susan Collins’ campaign