Machinists rally in support of Boeing tanker
Most of Washington’s Congressional delegation rallied alongside Machinists on July 9 in support of Boeing’s bid to build the next aerial refueling tanker for the U.S. Air Force.
The rally at the Machinists Union Hall in Everett attracted nearly 250 Boeing employees, elected officials and other supporters, and came just a few hours after Boeing formally submitted its bid to build 179 KC-X tankers, based on the 767 cargo jet.
“Today is the day we’ve been waiting for,” said U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. “Today is the day that the world’s best aerospace workers get to prove that you are the best.”
Murray and other elected officials attacked the illegal subsidies Airbus has used to develop the A330 jet that is the basis for its competing tanker bid, and vowed that they would not allow Airbus to use those subsidies to undercut Boeing.
“On a level playing field, no one – and I mean no one – is going to beat you out for this contract,” Murray said.
“We’re going to give Europe a red card,” added Congressman Jay Inslee. “We’re not going to allow cheaing in Europe to take away jobs in America.”
Inslee pledged to deliver to the Air Force a tanker that carries “a real American flag that isn’t just a decal slapped on in Alabama.”
“Not even the folks in Toulouse can deny, every single one of our Machinists working on the 767 line has more experience than the entire EADS tanker team combined,” he said. “That’s because EADS doesn’t have an American tanker team.”
The Boeing vice president in charge of tanker development, Jean Chamberlain, agreed, saying the strength of the Boeing bid lays in “our great Machinists here in Everett, our great Machinists in Kansas and all our engineering specialists throughout the company.”
Because of their skills, Boeing has “the only team that has invented, developed and delivered combat-ready (refueling) booms,” she said. The Boeing tanker is “capable, survivable, combat-ready on Day One for our U.S. warfighter and our allies.”
In contrast, “what does the other team have?” asked Congressman Rick Larsen. “They’ve got an empty field in Alabama. An airframe developed and paid for with illegal subsidies. An untested airframe that’s going to be built in France.”
Airbus also has a lumbering, oversized airframe that will cost the Air Force billions more to buy and to fly, said Congressman Norm Dicks.
Dennis Mahmood, a District 751 Steward who has spent his career working on 767s, described how he’d been taught how to build airplanes by some of the legendary Incredibles who’d come over after launching the 747 program. He and other older Boeing workers have passed on those lessons and their legacy, Mahmood said.
“We have a new generation of senior Machinists,” he said. “Nobody needs to teach you guys – you know what to do.”
It’s time to quit talking about tankers and to start building them, said Congressman Jim McDermott.
Dicks agreed. “We are going to win this fight,” he vowed. “We won it the first time. The second time we had the lowest bid. I’m still waiting for the Defense Department to get this right.”
Machinists have been hosting Boeing tanker rallies for most of the decade, Wroblewsi said, but “I’ll do as many rallies as we need to land this tanker.
“The next rally we have here,” he predicted, “will be a victory rally for the American worker.”
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