Bath Iron Works is seen in this 2017 file photo. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

Three months after the embattled president of the largest union at Bath Iron Works filed charges including insubordination, incompetence and negligence against two fellow union officers, the chief steward of Local S6 has been cleared by the international union office.

Raymond Gauthier, chief steward of the approximately 3,700-member Local S6 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, was notified last week by a letter from Robert Martinez Jr., president of the international union, that he was cleared of all wrongdoing.

In a July 2 letter to Mike Keenan, president of Local S6, Martinez rejected Keenan’s appeal of a trial committee’s unanimous decision to drop charges filed by Keenan.

Jason Perry, secretary and treasurer of Local S6, was charged with failing to file tax forms to allow the union to maintain its nonprofit status. Perry said at the time that he filed the forms as soon as he realized he was supposed to. Charges against him have not yet been resolved.

On Jan. 22, Gauthier, Perry and the remaining members of the local’s executive board, except Keenan, sent a letter to Martinez requesting that the national union intervene in the local union’s operations.

Keenan filed trial board charges against Gauthier and Perry shortly thereafter. The two denied all charges and said at the time that Keenan filed the charges in retaliation for the letters.

In response to the letter, the international union leadership sent a district official to Bath to oversee operations at S6.

Keenan remained in office and has continued to run day-to-day operations, but Jay Wadleigh, a former president of the union who now works at the District 4 office of the IAMAW in Lisbon, served as supervisor of S6 operations until earlier this month. John Carr, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said the international office sent Tony Blevins to oversee the chapter, in part because he was less familiar to union members.

On March 16, about 100 members of Local S6 passed a vote of no confidence in Keenan.

Keenan, a shipfitter, was narrowly elected president of the local union in October 2016, shortly after a controversial four-year contract negotiated under Wadleigh’s leadership took effect. The contract allowed for $2,500 annual bonuses to replace yearly raises, among a number of other concessions the company argued were necessary to keep it competitive for future Navy contracts.

Keenan previously served as president of the union from 2001 to 2008.

In March 2008, Keenan and three other officers of the local chapter were escorted from the union hall amid claims including financial mismanagement and improper use of union-owned computers.

Keenan denied all allegations, but the chapter was placed into receivership and he and other officials were suspended.

The IAM eventually returned control of the chapter to Local S6. Keenan was barred from running for office for four years and former chief steward Michael Cyr for two.

In October 2013, Keenan ran for the seat against Wadleigh. Wadleigh served until February, when he took a position with the union’s District Lodge 4 in Lisbon.

Keenan in the past has attributed the turmoil to “cliques, bullying and representatives that think that they’re entitled are just not things I tolerate.”

In a message Monday to the Bangor Daily News, he wrote that “the overwhelming evidence against [Gauthier] has yet to be presented to anyone. It is my understanding the claim to get it dismissed was on a technicality and [it] remains in the appeal process.”

Keenan wrote that the Bangor Daily News “is being used for political purposes to deflect away from the reality of what has occurred in the local lodge and the steps that I have taken to ensure compliance.”

Blevins on Monday referred all questions to Carr, who did not immediately return a request for comment.

Doug Hall, a former chief steward who on behalf of Local S6 represented Gauthier during the trial board process, said Friday that he has no inside information, but, “Do I think they’re eventually going to put us under trusteeship again and remove him? Yes, I think that’s going to happen.

Gauthier said he’s confident Blevins will straighten out union operations well before a new slate of officers is elected in October and the next contract negotiations begin in January.

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