Who’s behind bogus ‘Build Both’ campaign?
District 751 leaders are urging members of Congress not to be distracted by the misleading claims of a handful of powerful proponents of Alabama’s bid to become a center for European airplane manufacturing in America.
The Pentagon is today briefing Congress on its plans for soliciting bids on a new aerial refueling tanker for the U.S. Air Force. Yet even as governors from across America met Monday in our nation’s capital to pledge their support for Boeing’s U.S. tanker bid, a new lobbying effort popped up to urge Congress and the Pentagon to dilute taxpayer’s tanker dollars, rather than focus the resources on where they can do the most good.
This new “Build Them Both” coalition purports to be a grass-roots coalition of concerned citizens who only want what’s best for the Air Force. But let’s be real:
- They’ve hired a high-profile political operative to lead their D.C. lobbying efforts;
- They’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on slick advertisements targeted to capture the attention of federal government decision-makers;
- Their well-polished campaign has sprung up overnight, signaling that someone has poured a lot of money into it, but they’ve yet to disclose who is paying for it.
Clearly, these kinds of moves suggest that the “concerned citizens” behind the “Build Them Both” campaign aren’t well-meaning members of the Peoria, Ill., PTA, or even the Peoria, Ariz., Chamber of Commerce — the kind of community activists who might organize an e-mail campaign to lobby their representatives in Congress. Rather than being truly grass roots, this is “astroturf,” a big-money corporate lobbying effort thinly disguised as a spontaneous public groundswell.
We’d also like to note that the “Build Them Both” campaign claims to have reached out to labor as well as business and government leaders across America to try to rally support.
But here at District 751 — which represents more aerospace workers than any other union at either Boeing or Northrop Grumman — we have yet to hear from them. Nor have they contacted our colleagues at SPEEA – the Seattle-based Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace — which represents more than 20,000 highly skilled aerospace engineers and technical workers across the United States.
The Pentagon for years has insisted that it’s not interested in splitting the tanker contract between two competing jets — sentiments top Air Force officials repeated just this week. Anyone who has experience in the aerospace industry — as our members here in Puget Sound do — understands why. The world’s most-profitable airlines only operate one type of plane in their fleets, because it cuts down on spare parts costs and training requirements.
Yet the “Build Them Both” lobby — and, not coincidentally, Alabama’s Republican political leadership and their allies at Fox News – want to force the Pentagon to waste taxpayer dollars on redundant and duplicate tanker systems. America would be better-served focusing our tax dollars on building actual warplanes, not dual training simulators.
We think America works best when there is spirited public debate over topics of national interest — like the tanker contract, which will likely be one of the biggest Pentagon procurement contracts ever. To that end, we invite the people, organizations or companies who are funding the “Build Them Both” effort to come forward and join us in an honest, open discussion.
We’ll start by telling you who we are — we are District 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, we represent 25,000 of the best aircraft builders America has to offer and we’ll be proud to build the U.S. Air Force’s next aerial refueling tanker.
Now just exactly who are you?
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