FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., March 8, 2013 – The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today cited the threat to 1,400 American jobs in its call for a reversal of the recent U.S. Air Force contract favoring Brazilian-based Embraer over Wichita, KS-based Beechcraft Corp.
On February 27, 2013, the Air Force announced it selected Embraer for an initial contract worth $427.5 million to build and deliver 20 Light Air Support aircraft to the Afghan Air Force. The selection process is now facing intense scrutiny for choosing a significantly more expensive aircraft in the midst of sequestration and failing to consider the impact on U.S. workers, the U.S. industrial base and U.S. national security interests.
“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.
“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.”
The IAM represents more than 3,000 active and laid off workers at Beechcraft, which recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. In 2012, IAM members ratified a new contract with Beechcraft that preserved pensions for employees while giving the 80-year old company the needed financial lift for a successful restructuring.
“In the midst of an industry-wide crisis, Beechcraft partnered with its employees and union representatives to give this storied company a new lease on life,” said Buffenbarger. “It would be a cruel irony if they survived the great recession only to be mowed down by a misguided bidding process that favored a foreign nation over U.S. national interests.”
The IAM is one of the largest industrial trade unions in North America, representing nearly 100,000 aerospace workers among 700,000 active and retired members in dozens of industries. For more information about the IAM, visit www.goiam.org.