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Judge: Guam Shipyard Workers May Sue

Thursday, March 9, 2017

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A group of shipyard workers laid off suddenly when Guam Shipyard lost a military contract in 2013 will get to proceed with a class-action suit against the shipyard, after a judge gave the class certification the OK.

Pacific Daily News reports that Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, of the District Court of Guam, granted a motion for class certification Tuesday (March 7). The suit filed against the now-defunct shipyard revolves around the sudden and unanticipated nature of the job cuts, and whether they ran afoul of a federal law requiring advance notice prior to mass layoffs.

Naval ships at Guam Shipyard, 2010
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Corey Hensley / Public domain

The Guam Shipyard operated on property leased from the U.S. Navy, where a naval base previously stood.

More than 200 workers reportedly faced immediate termination in October 2013 when a $77 million Military Sealift Command contract was awarded to another firm. About 150 were U.S. citizens, who are included in the class action suit; approximately 70 were foreign nationals in Guam on work visas, according to the Associated Press.

WARN Act

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining (WARN) Act, which took effect in 1989, is a federal law that requires employers to give workers 60 days’ notice of layoffs that will involve more than 33 percent of the company’s workforce, or more than 500 employees total. (Companies with fewer than 100 total employees are exempt.)

The WARN Act serves to protect workers by allowing them time to prepare for possible layoffs.

Laid-off Guam workers moved to sue for the sudden job cuts as early as 2014.

Other Troubles

In August 2013, just two months before the mass layoffs, Guam Shipyard was assessed nearly $300,000 in worker-safety fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Guam map
By US Government (CIA), via Wikimedia Commons

The Guam Shipyard operated on property in Apra Harbor, leased from the U.S. Navy, where a naval base previously stood.

The shipyard has since shut down, and last year, a drydock that had been owned by the shipyard was shipped to the Philippines. The firm also faced fines from the Environmental Protection Agency last year because of improperly stored waste, including lead paint and zinc powder, and a ship that has been stuck on the shore for a decade.

The Guam Shipyard operated on property in Apra Harbor, leased from the U.S. Navy, where a naval base previously stood.

Painting, Blasting Operations

According to a Guam Shipyard brochure from 2011, the company ran a paint shop on the site that performed abrasive blasting, water jetting and other surface preparation, and applied primers, top coats and other surface coatings for protective purposes.

Pacific Daily News reports that the case is expected to go to trial May 15.

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Department of Labor; Labor; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; Program/Project Management; Regulations; Ships and vessels; Shipyards

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