IAM Union Urges Reconsideration of U-2 Fleet Retirement that Threatens Palmdale, Calif., Jobs

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2024 — Brian Bryant, International President of the 600,000-member International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), recently sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall expressing the IAM’s opposition to the planned retirement of the U-2 fleet by Fiscal Year 2026.

Read the complete letter

Bryant is asking the nation’s defense decision-makers to reconsider the premature retirement plan for the U-2 fleet. The current retirement timeline threatens the livelihoods of nearly 400 highly skilled IAM members who provide essential Program Depot Maintenance, Support and Sustainment, and Modernization services to the U-2 program. This mass layoff impacts the workers and casts a shadow over the Palmdale community and region.

“Disassembling this highly skilled workforce would be an unretractable mistake,” wrote Bryant. “In addition, it is our understanding that the U-2 program continues to provide vital ISR-T capabilities to the U.S. Air Force. Furthermore, the current schedule for retiring the U-2 appears unnecessarily rapid and could result in a gap in the U.S. Air Force’s peerless ISR-T capability.” 

The letter urges decision-makers to reassess the planned retirement schedule for the U-2 fleet. Preserving these high-skilled jobs, maintaining the capacity for sustainment and modification within the U.S. Department of Defense, and safeguarding the U.S. Air Force’s ISR-T capabilities are paramount.

“Our members in Palmdale have sacrificed to keep our nation safe,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “The futures of our members, their families, and the Palmdale community are at risk if the U-2 fleet is retired. We urge Secretary of Defense Austin and Secretary of the Air Force Kendall to reconsider this decision.

Read the complete letter

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is among the largest industrial trade unions in North America and represents nearly 600,000 active and retired members in the manufacturing, aerospace, defense, airlines, transportation, shipbuilding, woodworking, health care, and other industries.

goIAM.org | @MachinistsUnion


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