Friday, June 02, 2006

GE workers urge Rep. Bradley to maintain funding for good full time jobs

Workers from GE’s facilities in Hooksett, NH and Lynn, MA met with Representative Jeb Bradley in Manchester seeking his support to reverse the Pentagon’s decision to “single source” its next contract for the advanced Joint Strike Fighter aircraft engine. The single source decision backed by President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld would kill the engine made by a partnership between GE and British-based Rolls Royce.

The Bush Administration has asserted that a single contract from Pratt and Whitney for the Joint Strike Fighter could save $1.8 billion next year. However, over the long term, dual sourcing of the jet fighter aircraft engines could save taxpayers as much as $12 billion.

At the May 30 meeting, the GE workers who live in southern New Hampshire gave Rep. Bradley petitions to President George Bush signed by over 70 workers from the Hooksett plant. Bradley serves on the House Armed Services Committee and is a member of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.

“We make high quality aircraft engine parts,” said Beverly Murdough, a GE employee from Alton, NH who spearheaded the petition drive in the Hooksett plant. “We’re proud of what we do and hope Congress will allow us to keep doing the work.”

Nearly 1,000 workers from Lynn have signed similar petitions to Pres. Bush. The defense contract could represent about 10 percent of future employment at the Hooksett and Lynn aircraft engine plants.

Rep. Bradley indicated his strong support for continuing GE’s role in the Joint Strike Fighter. He said he would closely monitor the pending Defense Authorization and Defense Appropriations bills to make sure the provisions for duel sourcing are maintained. Congress is expected to send the final bills to Pres. Bush for his signature sometime this summer.

GE workers also pressed Rep. Bradley to support funding for a new "Strategic Materials Protection Board" that is included in the House version of the FY07 Defense Authorization bill. The proposed board is charged with drawing up a list of materials critical to national security and then requires the Pentagon to buy only U.S. made items from the list. This provision, and similar “build America” measures are strongly opposed by the Bush Administration.

“The Strategic Materials Protection Board and Build America programs are good for national security and common sense for the economy,” said Randy Hodson, who lives in Derry and works for GE in Lynn. “I hope Congress and the President do the right thing.”

After a freewheeling discussion about the significance of the defense industry to maintaining high skill, good quality jobs in the New England region, the meeting concluded with a presentation to Rep. Bradley about the importance of reforming America’s labor laws so that more workers can unite at work for the good jobs that America’s communities need.

“Many of the workers at Hooksett GE have expressed an interest in forming a union for a stronger voice in their future,” said IUE-CWA Local 201 president Jeff Crosby. “They should be allowed to do that free from management intimidation or retaliation.”

Crosby outlined the provisions of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act that would allow faster certification of unions when a majority of employees sign for its authorization. The bill would also establish stronger penalties for employers that violate U.S. labor laws. It currently has 215 co-sponsors in the House and 42 in Senate. Rep. Bradley said he would get more information about the bill and consider it.

Additional information about the meeting with Bradley, Build America and Employee Free Choice Act can be obtained from Local 201 by contacting Rand Wilson at


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