Friday, May 12, 2006

GE workers mobilizing to maintain funding for good full time jobs in Lynn, MA and in Hooksett, NH

Lynn, MA - Leaders of IUE-CWA Local 201 sent petitions on May 11 signed by over 1,000 workers to President George Bush demanding an immediate reconsideration of the Pentagon's decision to single source it's next advanced Joint Strike Fighter aircraft engine from one company.

The petitions reflect work by union stewards and committee members during two month-long membership education and political action campaign to build grassroots pressure on Congress to reverse the Pentagon decision.

In a letter to President Bush accompanying the petitions, Local 201 union president Jeff Crosby wrote, "The GE-Rolls Royce alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter makes sense from a public policy and employment point of view. It seems that the Iraq war and the Bush budget deficit is distorting even military procurement decisions for long-term planning. We lost jobs here in Lynn in the 1980s when the Defense Department dual-sourced a GE fighter engine to save money through competition. The same logic should apply now."

A U.S. Senate Armed Forces subcommittee voted on May 4 to join a House of Representatives subcommittee in calling for restoration of funding for a backup engine made by a partnership between British-based Rolls Royce and GE. The Bush-Rumsfeld proposal to kill the GE-Roll project is facing growing opposition in Congress.

The defense contract could mean 800 jobs at GE's Aviation plant in Evendale, Ohio and 300 jobs for the company's River Works aircraft engine manufacturing plant in Lynn, Massachusetts when it goes into final production in 2009. It also represents 10 percent of future employment at the Hooksett, NH GE plant.

The next hurdle is to make sure that the funding is maintained in the Defense Authorization and Defense Appropriations bills that Congress is expected to send to President Bush for his signature sometime this summer. The House and Senate Armed Forces subcommittees voted to approve the contract funding last week. The full House of Representatives is expected to vote on it today. The timetable for a vote in the Senate is still not known.

The Massachusetts Congressional delegation, especially Senator Kennedy and Congressmen John Tierney and Marty Meehan, have played an active role to defend the GE-Rolls project.

Senator Kennedy has called the Local 201 union hall twice to keep union leaders up to date on the bill's progress.

President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have opposed the contract because they believe they could save $1.8 billion next year. However, the union say that duel sourcing of the jet fighter aircraft engines would save taxpayers as much as $12 billion over the long run.

In addition to the River Works plant in Lynn, signatures for the petitions were gathered at Wilmington's Ametek Aerospace and over a half dozen North Shore GE vendors that depend on contracts from GE. Workers at GE's Hooksett, NH plant also made a significant showing of support by collecting signatures. The Hooksett plant supplies engine parts for assembly in Lynn.

A meeting of GE workers who live in southern New Hampshire to discuss the importance of the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft program with Representative Jeb Bradley is set for May 15 in Manchester. Rep. Bradley serves on the House Armed Services Committee and is a member of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.
For a copy of the letter to President Bush, contact Rand Wilson at


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