Machinists Union Presses F-35 Jobs Campaign On Capitol Hill
FORT WORTH: In the immortal words of the inestimable Tip O’Neill, “all politics is local.” That is never more true than with major weapons programs, with US defense primes traditionally sprinkling facilities and the jobs that come with them across as many of the 50 states as possible. And it is true in spades with DoD’s most expensive current program, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — which has suppliers in 45 states and Puerto Rico, according to prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
In that tradition, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has launched a full-court lobbying campaign to shore up wavering congressional support for the long-troubled program.
“The Machinist Union will use every political and legislative legislative tool at its disposal to make sure this program is a continued success. Now when we talk about ‘make something in America,’ when we talk about ‘Build Back Better’ with this administration, the F-35 program is an example of that,” Hasan Solomon, IAM political and legislative director, said during the briefing here.
He said that while Lockheed Martin is under “a lot of pressure” to keep costs down, “as the Machinists Union, as a representative of workers, we’re not under that pressure — we apply pressure. And we’ve been applying pressure to members of Congress to make sure that this program is adequately funded. We tell them point blank: ‘You can’t say that you support veterans,’ and then you don’t support their jobs, those good jobs here at Lockheed.”
The head of the union, Robert Martinez, issued a statement provided to reporters here at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 production facility making clear how much that map can mean:
“The F-35 program supports more than 250,000 direct and indirect jobs at nearly 2,000 suppliers nationwide. Continued investment in the F-35 program, and the Machinists Union families and communities who make it all possible, is an investment in not only our national security, but our economic security as well.”
The interesting twist, however, is that as a labor union, the group arguably has more clout than any one defense company, no matter how big (or even the defense industry as a whole) with progressive Democrats — who have been pushing strongly to slash the F-35’s trillion dollar budget to fund a broad domestic agenda.