A recent issue of Manufacturing News has an interview with Tom Buffenbarger, head of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents much of Boeing’s workforce. Or perhaps we should say, remaing workforce. The primary topic of the interview was Boeing losing the refueling tanker deal to a partnership between EADS/Airbus and Northrup Grumman. A couple weeks ago we described the hypocrisy of the politicians and pundits who are now complaining about this deal, and Mr. Buffenbarger is part of that group. Confusion driven by hypocrisy is evident throughout the interview.
Q: Why would IAM defend Boeing given its record
on offshore outsourcing so many of your jobs?
Buffenbarger:The platform that Boeing was
proposing to use was the 767, which has the higher U.S.
content in it than the Dreamliner, along with the Pratt &
Whitney engine that goes with it.
True, but what does that have to do with the tanker deal? What we really need to know is whether the Boeing 767 platform has more U.S. content than the Airbus A330 platform. Our friend and editor of Manufacturing News, Richard McCormack is a bright guy and jumps right to that question.
Q: On the EADS Web site, it is duly noted that only
15 percent of the Airbus is French, so maybe the
French content argument is overblown.
Buffenbarger:Our sister unions in France are in
league with us on this because they’ve been told that the
A-330 platform and assembly line will probably be
moved to Mobile, Ala. They are losing jobs as well.
Wait a minute… who is Buffenbarger representing? U.S. workers or French workers? If there’s only one contract, someone wins and someone loses. Pick one, not both. Airbus will significantly expand its facility in Alabama (yes, that’s in the U.S.) as a result of the tanker deal. Perhaps it’s not an issue of jobs, but of union jobs? That’s a little disingenuous.
Q: If the U.S. is getting jobs that would otherwise be
in France, isn’t it a good deal for the United States?
Buffenbarger:We will gain 2,000 jobs in Mobile, Ala.
The French will lose 3,000 to 4,000 jobs in Toulouse. We
lose more and more control of the technology that the
taxpayer dollar has paid to develop. That is my big
There you go again, confusing your constituency. But I thought your big complaint was the jobs, not the technology. Tanker technology at that… basically removing seats and adding a fuel bladder.
Q: The Air Force gets a great deal and the
warfighters get an excellent tanker sooner. You have a
lot of rational arguments in favor of the deal coming
out of the Air Force and the people making them are
Buffenbarger:I find it outrageous that people stated
that U.S. jobs and the U.S. economy were not taken into
consideration for this
decision. They can spend
my money and your
money and they don’t
care about what happens?
Wait a minute… didn’t we just ascertain that more U.S. jobs would be created with the Airbus deal? And not only does the Air Force get a great deal and an excellent tanker sooner, the taxpayer does. Guess what, I want the best deal for my money. And as much as I like Boeing (although they don’t understand the respect for people aspect of lean manufacturing), Airbus did present the better proposal.
Q: Do you have many
members in Northrop?
Are the Northrop people
feeling like you’re not
going to bat for them?
Who we have at
Northrop are people in
the shipyards. On the
aerospace side it’s
nowhere near the size of
a Boeing or a Lockheed.
It’s probably one of the
Another great question. Apparently size matters in the union mindset. What the heck, let’s sacrifice those NG people so we can protect our people at Boeing, a company that continues to offshore outsource as fast as possible.
Sorry Tom, your hypocrisy is showing.