|Members of NFFE-IAM Local 1429 meet with Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) to discuss potential BRAC cuts at Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, PA.|
Members of NFFE-IAM Local 1429 in Chambersburg, PA recently met with Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) to discuss strategy for protecting Letterkenny Army Depot from closure in the event of another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said the Pentagon will ask Congress for another round of BRAC in 2017. That message was reiterated when Army Assistant Secretary Katherine Hammack called on Congress to authorize a 2017 BRAC in Congressional testimony. While Congress has yet to authorize another round of BRAC, preparations for protecting installations considered vulnerable, including Letterkenny, are already underway.
In the meeting, Shuster expressed the need and his willingness to work with Local 1429 to protect Letterkenny from downsizing or closure. Discussions are underway to establish a group similar to the “Friends of Letterkenny” coalition which was successful in protecting the Pennsylvania Army depot from harm during the 2005 round of BRAC. NFFE Locals 1429 and 1442, both in Chambersburg, were key participants.
“It’s all about the team,” Shuster told reporters after the meeting. “You need a buy-in from everybody. We have 18 months to get ourselves in shape. We’ll be working this every day [in Washington, D.C.]”
Local 1429 members shared their concerns about the prospect of a closure or significant downsizing at Letterkenny. As the largest employer in Chambersburg and the surrounding area, the Army depot serves as the economic heart of the region. Union leaders also expressed a commitment to work with Shuster and his colleagues in Congress, along with the state of Pennsylvania to defend Letterkenny from BRAC.
“The union is committed to protecting our jobs here at Letterkenny Army Depot,” said NFFE-IAM Local 1429 President Chris Barlow. “We take the threat of another BRAC very seriously, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure our work stays here. That is why we asked Congressman Shuster to come and speak with our members. We want to get on the same page and get geared up for this fight if another round of BRAC is coming.”