Beth wins tunnel contract Laid-off workers to return to plant

deal is worth $60 million.

October 25, 1991|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Evening Sun Staff

Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point shipyard has won a $60 million contract to build tunnel sections for a highway under Boston harbor, a company spokesman said today.

The work will employ several hundred shipbuilders, many who have been laid off, for the next 18 months.

"Ecstatic" was the way Lonnie Vick, business agent for Local 33 of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, described his reaction to the announcement.

Business at the shipyard has dwindled in recent years, so that now the union has only about 100 members working at the yard, Vick said. With the new contract, expected to employ 500 to 600 shipbuilders, many of the union's members who are laid off can return to work, Vick said.

The job calls for building 12 steel sections of a tunnel that will carry four lanes of interstate traffic a distance of 3,900 feet beneath Boston Harbor. The project is scheduled to be completed in May 1993.

Work at the Sparrows Point yard, which specializes in ship repair, has fluctuated widely. At times, employment has dropped to as low as 90 people. In September, 200 people were laid off as work on ships was completed.

Beth Steel said the yard's current work force is about 600.

Winning the tunnel contract was so crucial for the yard that the company and union added an extra year to their contract in order to assure work force stability.

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