U.S. Air Force Backs Brazil over Beechcraft

The IAM is protesting a U.S. Air Force contract awarded to Brazilian-based Embraer over Wichita, KS-based Beechcraft Corp. The deal, which is for the production and delivery of 20 Light Air Support aircraft to the Afghan Air Force, is worth $427.5 million and threatens 1,400 American jobs.

“We should be very concerned whenever U.S. taxpayer dollars are used to create hundreds of jobs in any foreign country,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. “We should be outraged when the loss of those jobs also threatens vital U.S. economic and national security interests.

More than 3,000 active and laid off Beechcraft workers are represented by the IAM, which recently negotiated an agreement with the aerospace company that preserves pensions for employees while giving Beechcraft a financial lift after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“I don’t know why the U.S. government is bending over backwards to accommodate Brazil in the midst of sequestration, but this is a real blow to American workers and taxpayers,” added Buffenbarger. “The claim by Embraer that most of their plane would be ‘built in the USA’ adds insult to the injury of the 1,400 jobs that will be destroyed here at home.”

In a letter to members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the IAM and Beechcraft expressed their concern over the decision: “The U.S. aerospace industrial base, which the DOD and our nation rely upon to produce the finest military capabilities in the world, will be harmed by this decision. Our nation’s global competitors understand the reward of a vibrant domestic aerospace industry for both economic growth and national security.”