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March 27, 2020

Maine Delegation Calls on the Navy to Extend COVID-19 Worker Protection Guidelines to Private Shipyards Like BIW

Washington, D.C.—The Maine Delegation wrote to Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly today, urging him to take actions necessary to allow large private shipyards like Bath Iron Works to follow the same guidance the Navy has issued to public shipyards to protect vulnerable workers and families from COVID-19. 

In their letter, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden emphasized their concern for the health and safety of shipyard workers.  They also expressed appreciation for the initial steps the Navy has taken following a letter they previously wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary Modly as well as a phone call between Senator Collins and Secretary Modly on this topic.

“In response to this pandemic, the Navy earlier issued direction to each of its four public shipyards intended to limit the potential exposure of shipyard workers to COVID-19 while also maximizing the important national security work accomplished,” Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Golden wrote.  “We urge you to provide similar guidelines to our nation’s large private shipyards, the workers at which face similar health and safety concerns, and to permit necessary contract or deadline flexibility and funding to ensure such guidance would be feasible to implement for these shipyards.”

“We appreciate that it would ordinarily not be appropriate for the Navy to require or recommend particular workforce management policies of its private contractors,” the Maine Delegation continued.  “However, we are dealing with a highly contagious and deadly pandemic unlike anything our country has faced in over a century, and private shipyards are working to simultaneously maintain contractual obligations while complying with critical state and local public health orders.  Therefore, we believe the Navy should take aggressive actions to ensure the health of the shipyard industrial base workforce is not put at undue risk as governments at all levels work to halt the spread of COVID-19.”

Senators Collins and King hold seats on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, respectively. Congresswoman Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Congressman Golden is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Click HERE to read the Maine Delegation’s signed letter.

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