iMail for Thursday, June 24, 2008

Hawker Beechcraft Plans Mexican Assembly Plant

In a move that will send economic shock waves across Kansas for generations, Hawker Beechcraft is planning to build a tip-to-tail aircraft assembly plant in Chihuahua, Mexico. The company expects to move from manufacturing small parts and sub-assemblies to full aircraft assembly after 2012.

The five-year plan, code named Project Pelican, is outlined in documents containing detailed instructions on how the company planned to conceal the scope of the plan from the public, the press and employees at Hawker Beechcraft’s Wichita assembly plant.

“Never mention the potential of full aircraft assembly,” is among the covert marching orders for Hawker Beechcraft managers tasked with purchasing land, negotiating tax breaks with the Mexican government and hiring a workforce for as little as $3 an hour.

Instead, managers are instructed to frequently cite global competition and the need for “additional capacity other than Wichita.”

“Hawker Beechcraft shows no recognition of the damage they do to our economy, our industrial base or our national security when they transfer sophisticated technology and production to countries that turn around and compete with U.S.-based companies,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “Thanks to NAFTA and other job-killing trade deals, we’re encountering this phenomenon at every bargaining table in the aerospace industry.”

“The real story is what’s going on in Wichita,” said Hawker Beechcraft spokesperson Andrew Broom, in an article published in the Wichita Eagle. Broom did not deny the company’s outsourcing plans.

“Never before did Hawker Beechcraft disclose their intent to build a final assembly line in Mexico,” said IAM Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge, who is engaged in contract negotiations for 4,300 IAM members at Hawker Beechcraft. “This is deceit on a grand scale and will be a huge issue in the workplace and at the bargaining table.”

The IAM represents nearly 20,000 workers at Kansas aerospace and aircraft companies, including Hawker Beechcraft, Cessna, Bombardier, Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing. For additional information about Project Pelican, visit

IAM, Connecticut Lawmakers Applaud GAO Report

The Connecticut Congressional delegation joined with Machinists union members and other labor representatives this week to celebrate the Government Accounting Office’s (GAO) report that cited serious flaws in the refueling tanker competition that led to a French-built Airbus being chosen over a U.S-manufactured Boeing 767.

Hundreds of Connecticut workers and union members were joined by Senator Chris Dodd and Representatives John Larson, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro and Tim Murphy for the rally, which took place at the Connecticut AFL-CIO Convention.
“In our opinion, what the GAO decision means is Boeing won the competition and should be awarded the contract,” said IAM District 26 Business Representative Everett Corey. “We’re ready to begin building the new tanker starting today.”

Among the points made in the GAO report was that the Air Force did not assess the relative merits of the tanker proposals in accordance with the criteria it initially established. The GAO also cited the Air Force for conducting “misleading and unequal discussions” with Boeing by informing Boeing that it had fully satisfied a key performance objective, but later determined privately that Boeing had not.

The GAO also concluded the Air Force miscalculated the life-cycle costs of Boeing’s tanker, and incorrectly concluded that the Northrop tanker would have lower operating costs.

Iowa Members Battle Flood Waters

Members of District 6, Local 831 in Cedar Rapids, IA are still assessing damage after the Cedar River poured over its banks and inundated neighborhoods. High water marks on homes and business testify to the worst flooding in decades with more storms expected in the days ahead.

Fire department officials in Iowa’s second largest city estimated that 9.2 square miles or 1,300 city blocks were flooded before the water began to recede. Water was 10 feet deep in some places, flooding buildings up to the second story.  Some 24,000 people were displaced by the high water. This year’s flood level topped out at 32 feet, or 12 feet higher than the old record set in 1929.

This year’s flooding in Iowa was extensive. The Cedar River poured through Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. Further south, the Iowa River flooded Iowa City. The Des Moines River flooded parts of Des Moines as well.

The Mississippi River also broke through levies in Illinois and Missouri between the Quad Cities and Quincy, IL and then again between Quincy, IL and St. Louis, MO.

Indiana endured heavy flooding also.  At one time last week, Interstates 39, 80, 90 and 94 were all closed due to flooding.

Additional photos may be seen here.

Atlantic City Rally Draws Thousands

IAM members joined with thousands of labor activists and elected officials from throughout the country in a major march and rally in Atlantic City last weekend to demand casino owners negotiate with the workers’ union.

More than 5,000 workers from four major Atlantic City casinos have voted to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) since last March. Casino owners, however, continue to delay and stall negotiations. Taking part in the event were New Jersey Democratic Gov. John Corzine, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and a wide range of elected officials, union leaders and community representatives. Following the rally, a parade of marchers, stretching for several city blocks, streamed past the city’s major casinos for three hours.

District 9 Urges Anheuser-Busch Stockholders to Vote NO

IAM District 9 in Bridgeton, MO is actively opposing the proposed buyout of Anheuser-Busch by InBev, a Belgium-based global brewer.

“As you have heard, there is a buy-out attempt going on at Anheuser-Busch,” said District 9 Business Representative Mike Louis. “The company, In-Bev, is a European company that apparently does not make ties with the US communities when they settle into a city.”

Louis praised Anheuser-Busch saying, “They are very family oriented. Even though the world headquarters is in St. Louis, MO, their contributions to other communities such as San Diego and Orlando with Sea World, Busch’s Gardens and Grant’s Farm in St Louis is just one way the Busch family has made a real commitment to working families all over the United States. The company continues to provide good paying jobs with good benefits and there is just no proof that these types of commitments will continue if a foreign interest takes over.”

Many IAM members are Anheuser-Busch shareholders and are encouraged to vote against the proposed buyout.