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Aerospace unions to confront anti-union campaigns

21 June, 2017The world’s most powerful aerospace unions met in Paris, France, for an IndustriALL Global Union network meeting on 19 and 20 June 2017. 

Aerospace unions from North America, Europe, South America, Africa and Asia discussed the new and innovative strategies for organizing the unorganized throughout the world, from South Carolina to Shanghai and Morocco to Mobile, Alabama.

Some 75 participants discussed negotiating collective bargaining agreements that will improve wages, benefits and provide job security and retirement security to the millions of aerospace workers throughout the world.

Sector co-chair and IAM International President, Bob Martinez, said:

“We have the opportunity to continue building on efforts to bring justice and dignity to all of the world’s aerospace workers through union strength. This is opportunity to build a global aerospace workers movement that will rival the global aerospace companies.”

During the conference, participants discussed increasing anti-union and anti-worker extremism that seeks to crush the fundamental human right to join a real union that is free from government or company control. Participants also discussed continued outsourcing of unionized work within or outside production countries, often to nonunionized workforces in countries like China, where fundamental human rights like the right to form a union and engage in collective bargaining are either not recognized or not enforced. Discussion also included unfair competition from countries like China that do not abide by international trade rules and demand the transfer of technology and production in return for aircraft sales, rather than fair trade and a level playing field.

Participants focused on anti-union campaigns being waged by the managements of the world’s two largest commercial aerospace companies: Boeing and Airbus. Taking a page from the most notorious union busting companies in the world, Boeing management spent millions of dollars to keep its workers in South Carolina from joining the IAM. Not to be outdone, Airbus management is putting on an anti-union campaign in Alabama, in direct violation of IndustriALL’s Global Framework Agreement with the company.

In view of the current situation in Alabama, participants called on IndustriALL to review its agreement with Airbus. Participants also asked IndustriALL to coordinate organizing campaigns at Airbus and Boeing.

Participants called on all affiliates to recommit their efforts to:

  • Building effective networks at all global aerospace companies and developing communications systems where alliance affiliates can electronically inform one another about organizing and collective bargaining developments in each of their countries;
  • Seeking Global Works Councils with multinationals where the opportunity presents itself;
  • Urging trade negotiators to include strong prohibitions on demands for technology and production transfers in return for sales, particularly for countries like China which abuse these practices;
  • Continuing to develop a global alliance of aerospace unions and create innovative forms of international solidarity that will be effective in expanding our cooperation, building our capacity to mount global campaigns, and building our collective strength;
  • Combatting anti-union, anti-worker efforts, such as the attacks that took place on Airbus union members two years ago in Spain for exercising their right to strike;
  • Making full use, where appropriate, of intergovernmental and international bodies such as the UN, the ILO, and the OECD to ensure that global standards and international expectations are adhered to by aerospace employers.

Delegates thanked outgoing Aerospace Director Brian Kohler for his work with the sector and pledged to work closely with his successor.