IAM Urges Nasa to Suspend New Horizons Launch

Cape Canaveral, FL, December 5, 2005 – The IAM is calling on NASA to cease launch preparations on the plutonium-powered New Horizons project due to safety concerns over Boeing’s use of inexperienced replacement workers.

“Boeing recently congratulated itself over the delivery of a Star 48 upper stage motor to the New Horizons facility atKennedy Space Center despite a strike by IAM-represented technicians there,” said IAM spokesperson Bob Wood. “They failed to acknowledge that Boeing’s work on New Horizons doesn’t end with the payload delivery.”

Union leadership was informed by NASA that all work with replacement workers would cease, but the IAM has learned that contrary to the statements made by Boeing, work by Boeing is scheduled to continue on the New Horizons project with replacement workers.

Boeing must now attempt to mate the payload to the boosters. “The personnel currently working on this project do not meet Air Force requirements for hazardous operations such as cranes, tools and test equipment,” said Wood.  “This is an out-of-the-norm spacecraft and the most dangerous part of Boeing’s work is yet to come. The only technicians with the knowledge, certifications and experience required are standing outside the gates.”

Boeing has acknowledged that all work on all other projects at Cape Canaveral has ceased. “If it’s not safe to work on all other projects with replacement workers, it’s irresponsible to continue with New Horizons,” said Wood.  

IAM-represented technicians employed by Boeing at Cape Canaveral struck on Nov. 2 after Boeing proposed massive concessions in health care for current and future employees. The same proposals led to a costly 4-week strike at Boeing’s Commercial Aircraft facilities in Kansas, Oregon and Washington.

 “For the success of this mission and for the safety of everyone involved, the Machinists Union calls on NASA to stop all work with replacement workers immediately,” said Wood.