Responding to grave concerns about public health and military readiness as the coronavirus spreads in Maine, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) and Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) released a statement today urging the Department of Defense to extend deadlines for ships being built at Bath Iron Works (BIW).
“Bath Iron Works shipbuilders know the work they do is critical to American national security and military readiness,” said Pingree and Golden. “However, with the arrival of the coronavirus in Maine and the resulting public health crisis unfolding before our eyes, our nation’s leaders need to confront reality: BIW can’t build the best warships in the world if its shipbuilders are sick or caring for sick family members. With Bath shipbuilders hailing from hundreds of towns in each of Maine’s sixteen counties, a coronavirus outbreak at BIW could have grave consequences for households and communities throughout the state.”
“To protect America’s defense industrial workforce and the public health of our state, we believe that the Department of Defense should provide BIW with contractual relief in the form of extended deadlines for delivery of contracted ships,” the lawmakers continued. “Such a delay would allow the shipyard the freedom to design workforce policies that reflect the urgent public health crisis facing our state and the rest of the country. We will work with our colleagues in Congress and with the administration to encourage the Department of Defense to update its guidelines to match the gravity of the moment.”
Pingree and Golden will follow their statement with a formal letter to the administration later today.
BIW employs over 8,000 people, who commute in from each of Maine’s 16 counties. Earlier this week, the Department of Defense issued guidance to BIW and other facilities in the defense industrial base instructing them to remain open and maintain a normal work schedule while taking steps to protect their workforce from the coronavirus.
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