|Workers across the country cheered the news of the tanker contract win. From left, John Jenkins, Gary Ottinger, Janis Tawrel and Josh Allen join the celebration on the 767 line in Everett, WA.|
The news that Boeing won the U.S. Air Force contract to build a new fleet of aerial refueling tankers is a big triumph for the IAM, who has fought nearly 10 years to help bring this award to fruition. And no where is the win more evident than in Washington, Kansas and Connecticut, where 50,000 jobs – existing and future – were on the line.
At a time when aerospace workers have been hit harder with layoffs than at any other time since the Great Depression, IAM members and their communities are savoring the taste of victory.
District 751 members in Washington will build the planes. It has been an “incredible partnership,” said District 751 President Tom Wroblewski to thousands of Boeing workers who gathered on the Everett factory floor to celebrate the signing of the contract. “For 10 years, we have worked hand-in-hand on this issue – on the political front, on the shop floor – and together we made this happen.”
In Connecticut, District 26 members at Pratt & Whitney (P&W) will build the engines for the tanker. “It means a lot more work for jobs in Connecticut and it couldn’t come at a better time,” District 26 Assistant DBR Jim Parent told NBC Connecticut after the decision was announced. “This is work not for just a few years, but many years down the road.”
District 26 also released a statement saying IAM members at P&W “finally can gain some sense of stability after years of free fall. Though nothing can ever be taken for granted in the ‘new economy,’ these gains are a welcome relief from the certainty of job loss we have faced for too many years.”
In Kansas, Boeing Wichita will be the finishing center where IAM District 70 members will convert the jets into tankers, and members at Spirit AeroSystems will build the forward section.
“It was great news,” said Steve Rooney, Directing Business Representative for District 70, of the tanker decision. “Maybe this is a sign that we’ve hit bottom here, and we’re headed back up, putting our folks back to work.”