The IAM has lodged a protest with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over plans by contractor Lockheed Martin to reduce the number of Automated Flight Service Stations (AFSS) in the United States. AFSS Specialists provide preflight weather briefings, in-flight radio services, issue notices to airmen, handle flight plans for general aviation and initiate search and rescue efforts when needed. AFSS Specialists voted for IAM representation last spring and achieved their first contract in August, 2009.
“We are distressed about the continued downsizing of high wage, high skill jobs at a time in our history when our nation can least afford more job losses,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger in a letter to the DOT and FAA, “especially when the cuts will endanger public safety and put the safety first reputation of the U.S. air transportation system at risk.”
Lockheed Martin took over administration of the AFSS system from the federal government in 2005 in the largest non-defense service contract award in history. Lockheed downsized the AFSS from 58 facilities in 2005 to 13 in 2009 and in November announced plans to close another seven stations. The closures resulted in job losses from a high of 2,100 employees in 2002 to 810 in 2009. If the announced closures go through, there will be just 600 employees at six facilities.
Lockheed wants to close facilities in Seattle, WA; Kankakee, IL; Honolulu, HI; Lansing, MI; St. Petersburg, FL; Columbia, MO and Nashville, TN. Further consolidation of service centers would mean a loss of AFSS specialists with years of expertise in local area weather and geographic conditions, concentrating AFSS services in just three hubs and three stand-alone facilities.
Click here to send a letter to your senators, representative and the FAA to stop the closure of AFSS stations.