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Wed, Jun 25, 2008

IAM Takes Aim At Hawker Beechcraft's Plans For Mexican Plant

Says Planemaker Trying To Hide Goal Of Establishing Full Production

The International Association of Machinists is up in arms over alleged plans by Hawker Beechcraft to establish a full aircraft assembly plant in Chihuahua, Mexico.

IAM says the five-year plan, dubbed "Project Pelican," is outlined in documents containing detailed instructions on how the company planned to conceal the scope of the plan from the public, the press and employees at Hawker Beechcraft's Wichita, KS assembly plant.

"Never mention the potential of full aircraft assembly," is among the covert marching orders for Hawker Beechcraft managers tasked with purchasing land, negotiating tax breaks with the Mexican government and hiring a workforce.

Instead, IAM says, managers were instructed to frequently cite global competition and the need for "additional capacity other than Wichita."

"Hawker Beechcraft shows no recognition of the damage they do to our economy, our industrial base or our national security when they transfer sophisticated technology and production to countries that turn around and compete with US-based companies," said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger. "Thanks to NAFTA and other job-killing trade deals, we're encountering this phenomenon at every bargaining table in the aerospace industry."

Company spokesman Andrew Broom denies the union's claims, saying the internal outsourcing proposal, commissioned in May 2007, has already been shelved. He told KSN-TV the company has been very candid about the opening of the small parts production facility last October, which may eventually grow to support 650 jobs.

In contrast, Broom added, HBC has hired over 1,200 people in the last year, and wants to fill another 700 positions. "The real story is what's going on in Wichita," Broom told the Wichita Eagle.

IAM Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge doesn't buy that, however. Noting Broom "did not deny the company's outsourcing plans," Eldridge -- who, incidentally, is currently involved in negotiating new contracts for 4,300 IAM workers at Hawker Beechcraft -- believes the planemaker has a more ominous intent with setting up the plant in Mexico.

"Never before did Hawker Beechcraft disclose their intent to build a final assembly line in Mexico," said Eldridge. "This is deceit on a grand scale and will be a huge issue in the workplace and at the bargaining table."

FMI: www.goiam.org, www.hawkerbeechcraft.com, Read The IAM's Documents On "Project Pelican" (.pdf)

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