Machinists at Fairchild keep KC-135 crews ready

While a trans-Atlantic debate rages about the Pentagon’s process for replacing its aerial refueling fleet, District 751 members in Spokane are hard at work training the U.S. Air Force crews who fly the existing fleet of  KC-135Rs.

A profile of those FlightSafety Services workers at Fairchild Air Force Base is one of the stories in the current edition of the Eastern Washington Machinists News, which is now available online.

Fairchild is home to the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, which operates 34 KC-135s. The planes have played an active role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, refueling warplanes flown by the United States and its allies.

The employees at FlightSafety Services are pilot instructors and simulator maintenance technicians. Using state-of-the-art simulators, they train KC-135 flight crews so that “when they actually fly the plane, the crews are already familiar with the base and the mission, and hopefully, they have encountered any potential problem that could occur and even some they will probably never face,” said Tim Weber, one of the instructors.

The workers joined the Machinists Union in 2007, after a nationwide organizing campign. The members at Fairchild received average wage increases of $7.04 an hour in the first year of their contract, and over the past three years, they’ve seen their pay increase by an average $9.59 an hour. The union will negotiate its second contract with the company this year.

Also in this edition of the newsletter, you’ll find:

  • A profile of District 751 members who operate the Roosevelt Landfill in Klickitat County, which is Washington’s largest;
  • Information on how union leaders have moved to secure federal job retraining funds for workers at Pexco, an aerospace supplier in Union Gap, just in case the company’s new owners ever decide to ship their work to Mexico; and
  • An overview of what the union is doing to prepare for the upcoming contract talks at Triumph Composite Systems in Spokane, another key aerospace supplier.

The Eastern Washington Machinists News is a supplement to the AeroMechanic newspaper published by District 751. It is distributed every other month to members who belong to Locals 86 in Spokane, 1123 in Wenatchee and 1951 in Pasco.

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