Sen. Patty Murray, who knows how to pick a friendly crowd, spent part of Tuesday talking about keeping defense jobs in the United States to the IAMAW.
That’s the International Association of Machiniest and Aircraft Workers, as in, the biggest union at Boeing.
Murray, who has led the fight to bring the Air Force’s contract for the next generation of aerial refueling tankers to Boeing’s 767 line, last week got a line added to legislation on reforming the military’s contracting process. It says the Pentagon has to tell Congress what the effect the cancelling of a contract will have on the nation’s industrial base.
Put another way, if the Pentagon wants to cancel a program, it will have to tell Congress what jobs will be cut, and in whose state and congressional district they’ll be cut.
On the tankers, Murray has been adamant that Congress consider what the job impacts will be of awarding the $35 billion contract to Boeing compared with a consortium that includes Northrop Grumman and the European maker of Airbus.
No surprise, she suggested machinist union members make clear to its congressional delegation they have similar concerns.
For the text of her remarks, check inside the blog…
“Thank you all so much.
And thank you Rich for that kind introduction. I also want to thank Tom
Buffenbarger for all of his great leadership and the passion he has shown in
fighting for machinists at this critical time.
“I also know there’s a
crowd here from Boeing – so I want to say a special welcome to all of the
workers from Boeing and Washington state.
“We have the best
workforce in the world, and I’m so proud of you. And proud to be fighting for
you in the U.S Senate. How’s everybody doing? I hope you’re enjoying your
visit to Washington, D.C.!
“You know, like most of
you, on January 20th of this year I sat eagerly listening to the
President deliver his inaugural address – his first words to America and the
world – as President… And sitting up behind that podium, seeing nothing but a
sea of people for miles – I knew our country was ready for change.
“And while I may have had
a closer - albeit colder seat - than many of you that day, I think the new
President’s words rang out pretty clear to us all. He talked about the historic
nature of the occasion, the need to reform our image abroad, and of course, the
great challenges we face here at home.
“But in one very
important section of his speech, the President also talked about the fact that
America’s strength lies in the “the makers of things.” Those Americans whose
ingenuity and skill have built our country and will continue to be the backbone
of our economy.
“Well, I have to tell
you, the first thing that crossed my mind when he said that were the skilled and
dedicated machinists and aerospace workers in my state and across the nation.
The men and women who have passed skills down for decades, from one generation
to the next, and from one apprentice to the next.
“Who for over 50 years
have turned out plane after plane to keep air travel thriving, our military
safe, and our economy moving. Who will be key to paving our path to economic
“And who I stood with 14
months ago, on a 767 line in Everett, Washington, and pledged to help in the
face of the Air Force’s misguided decision to outsource a tanker contract worth
billions of dollars and thousands of American jobs.
“As I’m sure it is for
many of you, the day of the Air Force’s tanker announcement is still pretty
clear in my mind. I can remember that my initial shock at hearing the news
quickly turned to anger.
“I couldn’t understand
why the Air Force decided it would give away our jobs – and the control of our
national defense – to a foreign company…
“Why they would rather
outsource jobs than create them in Everett and across the country. Why they
would rather send a U.S. military contract to a company that has never built a
refueling tanker – or any military plane for our
“I can remember talking
with Tom that day about how this decision would impact families, your union, and
the next generation of American aerospace workers. And I can remember telling
him point blank that the minute I got off the plane back in D.C. I was going to
work. And I did.
“For the next seven
months I was dedicated to showing the Air Force and the Pentagon the error they
had made and the toll their decision would take on your jobs. And while I can’t
tell you exactly how many speeches I gave on the Senate floor against their
decision, I can tell you this:
“Any time another Senator
spoke out for Airbus, I took the floor. Any time a TV or newspaper ran a story
that ignored the devastating effects this decision would have on workers, I took
the floor. Any time I saw one of those full page ads in the paper that had
faulty statistics and skewed the facts of the competition, I took the floor.
“It got to the point that
I would come in to work and not even have tell my staff that I wanted to go
speak, they would say Senator we know….we saw the paper. It was a long, hard
“It took a lot of
committee hearings, a lot of phone calls, and a lot of partnerships with some of
the people you will also hear from during this conference. But over the course
of those seven months one thing became clear – the facts didn’t add up. Every
briefing and every hearing only raised more questions than
“And the evidence showed
that the rules were changed on Boeing time and again in order to keep a foreign
competitor at the table. And then finally, last September, our efforts paid
off. The Pentagon - confronted with the hard facts of an unfair competition -
decided they would re-compete this critical contract. It was a big
“But the truth is… it was
one victory in what I believe is a much larger battle. A battle for the future
of our workers, our industrial base, and your union. Because this isn’t just
about one contract, one company, one state, or one industry. This is about our
nation’s economic stability, our military capability, and ensuring that our
workers are a consideration in the decisions we are making on major defense
“You know, just last week
we passed a long-overdue bill in the Senate that reforms many of the Pentagon’s
procurement practices. And in that bill, I fought successfully to add an
amendment that will require the Pentagon to explain to Congress just how their
decisions affect good paying jobs and the long-term strength of our industrial
“I worked to include this
provision because I believe it’s time to start a serious conversation about the
future of the men and women who produce our tanks, planes, and boats. The
skilled workers our military depends on – a workforce that is disappearing
before our eyes.
“Whether it is scientists
designing the next generation of military satellites, engineers improving our
radar systems, or the machinists assembling our warplanes - these industries and
their workers are one of our greatest strategic assets.
“But what if they weren’t
available? What if we made budgetary and policy decisions without taking the
future needs of our domestic workforce in mind? It’s not impossible. It’s not
even unthinkable. It’s happening. And we need to have a real dialogue about
the ramifications of these decisions.
“Because as all of you
know, once our plants shut down, once our skilled workers move to other fields,
and once the infrastructure is gone – it can’t be rebuilt overnight. Our country
faces two difficult, but not unrelated, challenges – winning an international
war on terror and rebuilding a faltering economy – And that is why this is a
discussion that can’t wait.
“Unless we begin to
address this issue now, we are going to continue to lose some of our best paying
American jobs and the backbone of our military might.
“And so today – and
tomorrow – while you’re out meeting with your members of Congress – I want you
to remind them that it took us a long time to build our industrial base. That
your union has machinists who have passed experience and know-how down the ranks
for half a century. And that you have a reputation for delivering for our
military. But that once our plants shut down, we can’t get those skills back
“And that as we face two
wars and a recession, it is critical that they are making decisions that keep
our aerospace industry strong. Decisions that take our domestic base into
consideration. And that begins by making clear to them that the next tanker
completion must be fair and transparent.
“Because you and I know,
on an even playing field, nobody is going to beat you
“So when you’re talking
to those Senators and House members and their staffs, make sure you tell them
that we can’t afford another flawed process. Make sure they how that this
contract means jobs for their neighbors and their constituents! That this
contract represents the future of the American aerospace industry! And that the
best machinists and aerospace workers in the world are right here in
“Remind them that
American workers built this country and our military - and that you’re here in
Washington D.C to say that you are ready to be put to work again! And make sure
that they know this won’t be the last time they hear from you. That you are
going to call and remind them about what’s at stake.
“I can guarantee that
once your lawmakers know that you aren’t going anywhere – they will begin to see
everything in a whole new light. Thank you.”