Machinists International Union Takes Control of Shipbuilding Local in Maine

Having hardcore fun is one thing; using dues money to pay for it is another. Unfortunately, Local S-6 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers appears not to know the difference. This past March 17, representatives from the IAM escorted eight local officials from the union hall, placing them on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation of financial improprieties and misuse of computers. In a letter sent to various media organizations dated February 19, regional IAM official Paul Shemanski cited “reports of financial and other mismanagement” and “complaints of vast amounts of pornography” accessed from computers belonging to the Bath, Maine union. Local President Mike Keenan was among the local members removed.

Local S-6, a major force in Upper New England organized labor, represents around 3,500 workers at the Bath Iron Works, a shipbuilding operation located near Brunswick. Downloading sexually-related materials on the Internet isn’t necessarily illegal. Yet the manner in which this was done might well be in conflict with certain clauses in the collective bargaining agreement. Other allegations point to more serious contractual breaches. They include failure to manage a backlog of arbitration cases, mismanagement of possibly more than $100,000 in union merchandise, and inadequate controls over an election held last November and a re-run election held this February. The eight individuals in question are under investigation. “It’s pretty much a laundry list of things,” said John Carr, spokesman for the Machinists’ Eastern Region. “The law requires us to investigate when certain allegations are made.” For the local’s sake, one hopes the X-rated stuff isn’t too kinky. (, 3/18/08;, 3/18/08; Mainebiz Online, 3/18/08).