Machinists ‘can, should, will’ build tanker

The decision by EADS to enter a solo bid for the U.S. Air Force’s tanker contract — after the Europeans were unable to find a U.S. partner to help with their expensive and oversized KC-45 — doesn’t really matter, District 751 President Tom Wroblewski said.

“The Boeing tanker is the only one that makes sense for the U.S. military, the American taxpayers and our nation’s economy,” Wroblewski told members of his union. “If EADS wants to bid, let ’em. You and I know that we can build a better tanker in less time and for fewer tax dollars.

“The only important thing about last months’ EADS announcement,” he added, “is that it removes any questions and lets us move forward.”

Wroblewski’s comments are printed in the May edition of District 751’s AeroMechanic newpaper, which is now available online.

In his monthly column, the Machinists’ district lodge president laid out some specific reasons why the the KC-45 tanker proposed by EADS is wrong for the U.S. Air Force:

  • In 2008, Boeing submitted a lower bid for its KC-767 tanker, Wroblewski noted, which means the Pentagon would have to spend billions more to buy the imported planes
  • The proposed KC-45 is not just more expensive to buy, it’s more expensive to fly. “In the real world, where the laws of physics apply, a bigger airplane requires more fuel,” he wrote. “That extra fuel costs money.”
  • The KC-45 is too big for many of the airports the Air Force uses, which would require billions more in facilities upgrades before the armed forces could actually use it.

Finally, “the biggest problem with the EADS bid is that it relies on French workers to fabricate the parts that will be assembled by a yet-to-hired and trained workforce in (Alabama),” Wroblewski said. “Our members are the ones who can build the tanker, should build the tanker and will build the tanker.”

Also in this month’s AeroMechanic you’ll find:

  • Photos and a list of award-winners from District 751’s recent MVP banquet, which honored members of the Machinists Volunteer Program for their community service. In all, 464 District 751 members gave 3,271 hours of volunteer time in 2009, which is amazing, Wroblewski noted, given the incredible amounts of mandatory overtime that members at Boeing had to work last year.
  • A report on how union members from Boeing plants in Auburn, Everett and Renton recently collaborated to improve the shipment of tubes and ducts between the company’s Puget Sound factories. By following the workers’ suggestions, Boeing will save significant amounts of time and money, speeding the loading process, reducing the numbers of trucks on the road and also cutting the injury risk for workers.
  • A report on the new contract ratified by District 751 Machinists who work for FlightSafety Services at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane. Their new contract grants workers raises of between 6.69 and 13 percent in the first year.
  • A report on efforts by the district’s Women’s Committee to raise awareness of cervical cancer prevention during May’s Women’s Health Week.
  • An update on progress toward contract talks at Triumph Composites in Spokane, where 99 percent of members have approved a strike sanction vote. Their contract expires June 3.
  • The second entry form for the union’s 75th anniversary coloring and essay contests for children.

The May edition also includes information on three fundraisers for Guide Dogs of America that District 751 will host in June. They are:

In 2009, District 751 raised nearly a quarter-million dollars for the charity.

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