Washington, DC — In a powerful new ad, military veterans working for manufacturing giant General Electric are calling on the company to reinvest in our domestic union military production infrastructure, and cease its offshoring essential military manufacturing – a practice currently jeopardizing our national security.
General Electric is one of the largest vendors to the U.S. government, receiving billions of taxpayer dollars each year, most recently a $1.5 billion contract with the U.S. Air Force, despite decades of rampant offshoring. Last year, GE received over $4 billion in defense revenue from the US government.
“We have some of the most skilled workers in the manufacturing sector providing some of our nation’s most essential work,” said Carl Kennebrew, President of IUE-CWA. “We’re proud to represent veterans that not only served this country overseas, but came home and chose to continue supporting our military by building and repairing the equipment that enables their fellow servicemembers to carry out their duties. General Electric must bring this work home, and ensure that equipment for the American military is proudly American-made.”
The video featuring veterans was first posted on social media by the union CWA, Communications Workers of America, ahead of Veteran’s Day. By Thanksgiving, the ads will start airing in markets across the country, including Washington D.C., Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Kansas. The union’s industrial arm, IUE-CWA, is the largest representative of GE workers in the nation.
Highly skilled General Electric workers in Lynn, MA, and Madisonville, KY, play a key role in the production of T-700 jet engine blades and vanes used in military aircraft, including Blackhawk, Chinook, and Apache. However, due to GE’s continued offshoring practices, much of our military jet engine manufacturing was sent to Germany around a decade ago, causing preventable delays in military production. Meanwhile, parts for military jet engines assembled in Lynn are now produced in South Korea and Romania, while the jet engine rebuilding and maintenance work that was previously done in Madisonville and Arkansas City now take place in Singapore and Malaysia.
Veterans and experts agree GE’s rampant offshoring puts the United States at greater risk for both extreme climate and national security emergencies.
Taking GE to task on offshoring, Brigadier General John Adams, calls on GE to “bring the jobs back to America.” Adams cites the House Armed Services Committee’s Future of Defense Task Force 2020 report which concluded, “a lack of domestic manufacturing capability and access to reliable supply chains is among our greatest national security and economic vulnerabilities.”
In the ad, GE workers who served in all branches of the United States military emphasize the impacts of GE’s offshoring of defense contracted work, and the risks imposed upon American national security. The ad is running in markets across the country.
“We’re proud to have served our country, and we’re proud of the work we do here at home,” said Brandon Pride, who served in the Air Force before taking a job at GE in Arkansas City, Kansas, and is one of the workers featured in the video. “It’s a slap in the face when GE offshores this kind of work because the quality of product we get back for inspection is not where it needs to be. American service members overseas must have equipment that is up to par; lives depend on it. GE needs to trust the workforce they have at home – not only do we have the necessary skills, but for a lot of us, it’s personal.”
The coalition calling on GE to reinvest in American workers is led by IUE-CWA, and has the support of powerful veterans organizations Common Defense and the Union Veterans Council, in addition to AFL-CIO, Industrial Union Council, Citizens Trade Council, and the Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
“When military manufacturing work is offshored, it not only leaves good, union jobs off the table for U.S. workers, it puts our readiness to respond in jeopardy,” said Will Attig, Executive Director of the Union Veterans Council and U.S. Army veteran. “COVID taught us this – even when certain components are made in allied countries, our manufacturing parts run the risk of being deemed ‘non-essential’ to another nation. That coupled with the current supply chain crisis means that we won’t be able to effectively ramp up production. That’s a problem, and it’s one that GE can solve by investing in its highly skilled workforce here at home.”
Veterans and military experts assert that the company stands at a crossroads: continue its 40-year track record of disinvesting, de-unionizing, and offshoring manufacturing operations, or to recommit to investing in US military manufacturing and investing in family-sustaining, union jobs at home. As the Biden administration reaffirms its commitment to the Build Back Better agenda, the coalition standing with the GE workers asserts that reinvesting in the creation of good-paying, union jobs in manufacturing is one of the most effective ways GE can bolster the nation’s middle class — including veterans.
“When veterans come home after serving our country, they don’t just deserve jobs — they deserve good union jobs with fair pay, affordable healthcare, and the ability to support their family and communities,” said Jose Vasquez, Executive Director of Common Defense and U.S. Army veteran. “General Electric has the opportunity to invest in U.S. communities, workers, and veterans by putting the government subsidies they receive to good use by creating good union jobs here at home.”
To learn more about the call for GE to once again reinvest in American military manufacturing jobs, visit www.BuildBackAmerica.info.