News Briefs – December 14, 2015

Maine shipyard union approves four-year, no-raise contract

The largest union at Maine’s Bath Iron Works in Augusta, Maine, has approved a four-year contract that contains provisions aimed at making the shipyard more efficient.
The Navy shipbuilder said its future competitiveness was at stake when Machinists Union Local S6 voted Dec. 13 in Augusta. The company wanted concessions it says are necessary to be competitive on a bid for up to 25 Coast Guard cutters early in the new year. Without them, the company had warned of job cuts.
Some of the provisions go into effect immediately while others will be phased in.
The proposal contains $2,500 annual bonuses and modest increases in company pension contributions. Company health insurance contributions are unchanged but workers face higher deductibles and co-pays. Also included are scaled-back company proposals on work rule changes and subcontractors. AP

USS Milwaukee breaks down, is towed to base in Virginia

The U.S. Navy’s newest ship had to be towed to a base in Virginia after breaking down during its journey to its home port in California.
The USS Milwaukee, a littoral combat ship that was commissioned in November, was towed more than 40 nautical miles to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek after suffering an engineering casualty Dec. 11, The Navy Times reported.
The ship was on its way from Halifax, Canada to Mayport, Fla., where it was planning to stop before continuing on its trek to its port in San Diego.
The cause of the ship’s failure remains under investigation, but officials say it appears that metal debris collected in the lube oil filter, causing the system to shut down. The problems began soon after the ship left Halifax and officials dropped anchor while engineers worked on the system.
A salvage ship eventually met up with the Milwaukee and towed it to the Virginia base.
Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Navy Times that the problems with the Milwaukee are “deeply alarming,” particularly because it was commissioned just last month.
“I expect the Navy to conduct a thorough investigation into the root causes of this failure, hold individuals accountable as appropriate, and keep the Senate Armed Services Committee informed,” he said in a statement.
The USS Milwaukee was built in Marinette, Wisc., and was commissioned in Milwaukee. Littoral combat ships can operate much closer to shore, and go at faster speeds, than other vessels. AP

United Tech slightly raises 2015 profit outlook

United Technologies Corp. raised the low end of its forecast range for 2015 profit Dec. 10 in the wake of the recently completed $9 billion sale of its Sikorsky helicopter division to Lockheed Martin and the launching of a share repurchase program.
The aerospace and building systems conglomerate told analysts at its annual meeting that it expects earnings per share this year of between $6.20 and $6.30. Its previous guidance was $6.15 to $6.30 per share.
The average analyst estimate is for $6.32 a share, according to FactSet.
United Technologies said it expects 2016 earnings per share of $6.30 to $6.60 on sales of between $56 billion and $58 billion.
Analysts expect 2016 per-share earnings of $6.57 and revenue of $58.48 billion.
Chief Executive Officer Greg Hayes said the Farmington, Connecticut-based company has launched an accelerated share repurchase program to return an additional $6 billion to shareholders. Buybacks have the effect of boosting earnings per share by reducing the number of shares by which earnings must be divided.
The company has announced a $1.5 billion multi-year restructuring plan focused on cost reductions in high-cost locations. It’s expected to result in $900 million of annualized savings when completed. AP

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