Saturday, January 24, 2015

Week in review (1/18 to 1/24)

Late in the week the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest figures on union membership in the country. What may be the most striking on the national level is the drop since 1983, the first year for which comparable figures are available.

At that time, the union membership rate among American workers was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union members. In the most recent figures, 11.1 percent were members of unions. That’s 14.6 million people.

In the four states that are part of the I-10 aerospace corridor, the rate went up slightly in three of the four and remained the same in the other. Mississippi had the lowest union membership of the four with a rate of 3.7 percent, same as in 2013. Louisiana had a union membership rate of 5.2 percent in 2014, up from 4.3 in 2013, and Florida had a union membership rate of 5.7 percent, up from 5.4 in 2013. Alabama's union membership rate was 10.8 percent in 2014, up from 10.7 in 2013. (Post)

The state with the lowest union membership was North Carolina at 1.9 percent, and the state with the highest was New York, with 24.6 percent. The state with the largest number of union members was California, with 2.5 million. Over half of the 14.6 million union members in the country live in seven states: California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, though these states accounted for only about a third of wage and salary employment nationally.

In 2014, 16.2 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union. This group includes both union members and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract.

In Alabama, 12.1 percent of workers are represented by unions, and in Florida, 7 percent are represented by unions. In Louisiana, 6.4 percent are represented by unions and in Mississippi, 4.5 percent are represented by unions.

The first F-35C for the Marines arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., earlier this month from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas. It was delivered to Strike Fighter Squadron 101 by Lt. Col. J.T. "Tank" Ryan, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 501 detachment commander.

This plane is the first of five Marine Corps F-35Cs that will be delivered to VFA-101 at Eglin. Marine F-35 pilots primarily fly F-35Bs, the short take-off vertical landing variant, but the F-35C will be used for carrier operations.

The first operational Marine Corps F-35C fleet squadron, VMFA-115, is scheduled to stand up at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., in 2019. (Post)

Meanwhile, the Marine Corps is moving forward with plans to base its fleet of F-35B's in Japan and the United States. In 2017, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 will relocate from Yuma, Ariz., to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.

Marine F-35 squadrons will also routinely deploy to Japan on six month rotations as part of the service's unit deployment program. F-35Bs at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., where pilots and maintainers are trained, will be included in the rotation. (Post)

Air Force F-35As are also going to be based overseas, but in Europe. The Air Force will base two squadrons at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom, with the first aircraft slated to arrive in 2020.

Economic development
Aerosync Support, which specializes in helicopter repair, modifications and upgrades, will set up shop at the Santa Rosa Industrial Park in Milton, Fla. The company is making a capital investment in excess of $1.75 million.

Aerosync qualified for a performance-based incentive program aimed at increasing high-skilled, high-wage jobs in Florida. Aerosync provides support for Bell and Sikorsky helicopters for both the commercial and military markets.

Greg Bartlett, president of Aerosync, said the company decided on Santa Rosa County because of the large aerospace market in both commercial and military sectors, and the Santa Rosa Industrial Park offers the opportunity for expansion.

Aerosync, which also has operations in Wichita, Kan., and Bogata, Columbia, will create 25 jobs in Santa Rosa County. (Post)

-- Speaking of jobs, over in Mobile, Ala., aerospace giant Airbus posted notices for two positions that are open for the A320 final assembly line being built at the Mobile Aeroplex. One opening is for a deliver transactions manager, the other for sales contract manager. The assembly line, which will produce the most popular line of Airbus jetliners, will be opening in the fall of this year and produce its first jet in the spring of 2016. (Post)

-- The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition is back on track with an expansion of its research facility following a nearly year-long delay caused by flooding in April 2014. Completion is scheduled for February 2016. The three-story, 30,000-square-foot building will consolidate work done at several buildings, increase IHMC’s footprint and allow for future growth.

IHMC is a research institute investigating a broad range of topics related to building technological systems aimed at amplifying and extending human cognitive, perceptual, and physical capacities. Some of its work is in aerospace. (Post)

Gulf Power is partnering with the Air Force and Navy at three military bases in Northwest Florida to build large-scale solar energy farms. Tentative plans call for the farms to be located at Eglin Air Force Base near Fort Walton Beach (30 megawatts), Holley Outlying Field in Navarre (40 megawatts) and Saufley Field in Pensacola (50 megawatts).

As an intermittent energy resource, the solar farms will not replace Gulf Power's generation plants, but will be able to provide energy that will diversify the power supply and provide a cost-effective alternative during peak energy usage. It still has to be approved by the Florida Public Service Commission.

HelioSage Energy of Virginia would begin construction in February 2016 and the solar farms could be in service by December 2016. According to Eglin officials, the base has entered into negotiations to lease 240 acres adjacent to Northwest Florida Regional Airport for the Gulf Power/HelioSage project. (Post)

-- Silver Airways said during the week that it will provide service from Pensacola International Airport to Jacksonville and from Panama City’s Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport to Orlando and Tampa, beginning March 19. Silver Airways uses 34-seat Saab 340B Plus turbo-prop aircraft for all its flights. (Post)

-- Okaloosa County commissioners during the week changed the name of Destin Airport to Destin Executive Airport. But they delayed changing the name of Northwest Florida Regional Airport to Destin-Ft. Walton Beach International Airport. Some commissioners wanted more time to study the matter. The airport, goes by VPS, is at Eglin Air Force Base. (Post)

The third Navy Mobile User Objective System satellite launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station early in the week atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V. The MUOS satellite is designed to improve secure satellite communications for mobile U.S. forces.

Five of the Lockheed Martin MUOS satellites will eventually be launched to form the constellation. Think of them as high-flying cell towers -- 22,000 miles above Earth, in fact. Two MUOS satellites launched in 2012 and 2013. Ultimately, the constellation and network will extend narrowband communications availability past 2025. Work on the core propulsion system for the A2100 satellite-based spacecraft is done by Lockheed Martin at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- Praxair Inc., of Danbury, Conn., was awarded a five-year, $53 million contract by NASA to provide liquid hydrogen to Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; Marshall Space Flight Center, Ala.; and Glenn Research Center, Ohio. NASA uses liquid hydrogen as fuel for rocket engine development, testing and the launching of spacecraft. (Post)

L-3 Communications Vertex of Madison, Miss., was awarded two contracts by DoD, one for $15.6 million and the other for $16.4 million, each for six month extensions of the current bridge contract at Corpus Christi Army Depot, Corpus Christi, Texas, to provide highly specialized aircraft production indirect labor services augmenting the civilian workforce. ... Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems Inc., Bethesda, Md., was awarded a $37.6 million contract modification to exercise the first option for the Next Generation Technical Services (NGTS) III requirement. Work will be performed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Vicksburg, Miss.; and Lorton, Va.

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