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Mon, Apr 06, 2009

Machinists Denounce F-22 Funding Cut

Cites Need For Air Superiority, "Short-Term Economic Stimulus"

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) denounced Monday the decision by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates to end funding for the F-22 Raptor, calling the plane "the next-generation fighter aircraft that would have assured US air superiority for years to come."

"Not only is the decision to cut funding for the F-22 shortsighted militarily, but our economy can ill afford to disperse the thousands of aerospace jobs required to design, construct and maintain aircraft of this caliber," said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. "We simply cannot afford to cannibalize our national defense to repair damage caused by reckless financial institutions and greed-crazed corporate executives."

More than 2,000 Lockheed Martin workers, many represented by the IAM, assemble the F-22 Raptor at the company’s facility in Cobb County, Georgia. In addition to jobs directly related to production and assembly, as many as 25,000 jobs nationwide are indirectly supported by the program.

"The need for long-term air superiority is no less important than the need for short-term economic stimulus," said IAM Vice President Rich Michalski, who oversees the union’s aerospace operations. "The benefits of the F-22 program extend far beyond the aircraft itself. It creates and supports thousands of good-paying jobs when we need them most, and nearly all technological advances in the commercial aviation sector have their genesis in taxpayer-supported military programs like the F-22."

"The economy is tough enough," IAM spokesman Tom Buffenbarger told WSB-750 in Atlanta. "The cost of shutting down this line and the devastating effect that has on communities -- whether in Seattle, Marietta, Georgia or Fort Worth, Texas... is unconscionable."

The IAM is among the largest industrial trade unions in North America, representing nearly 700,000 active and retired members in dozens of industries, including Lockheed's assembly plant in Marietta, GA.

FMI: www.goiam.org, www.lockheedmartin.com, www.defenselink.mil

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