Saturday, March 21, 2015

Week in review (3/15 to 3/21)

There was a story this week about the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers filing a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election for 2,400 production workers at the Boeing plant in North Charleston, S.C.

The plant opened in late 2011 and is one of two final assembly and delivery points for the 787. Boeing last month opened a new propulsion plant in North Charleston and now employs about 7,500 people in South Carolina. (Post)

You just know that Airbus is keeping an eye on what's going on in South Carolina. Airbus, which will open an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., this year, has developed a strategy to counter an expected move by unions to organize the Alabama plant. That's the word from Alan McArtor, chairman and chief executive of the Airbus Group.

He said the Airbus business case for the Mobile plant doesn’t rely on whether workers decide to organize, but the company will seek to avoid a union presence by ensuring a rapport and fair treatment of its workers. (Post)

So how are unions doing? According to statistics released earlier this year by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationwide there were 14.6 million wage and salary workers who were members of unions in 2014, 11.1 percent of workers. That's down 0.2 percent from 2013.

While that's not much of a drop, the numbers are down considerably from 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available. In 1983 there were 17.7 million union workers, a membership rate of 20.1 percent.

In the four states that are part of the I-10 aerospace corridor, Mississippi had a union membership rate in 2014 of 3.7 percent and Louisiana had a rate of 5.2 percent. Florida's union membership rate in 2014 was 5.7 percent and Alabama's was 10.8 percent.

A Fire Scout and a Littoral Combat Ship both are making a showing for the first time in an annual war game in South Korea. The exercises began March 2 and will continue through April 24 and involve thousands of U.S. troops and their South Korean counterparts.

This year the USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) is participating. It's one of two LCS designs intended to fight in areas closer to shore than larger ships can enter and to counter attacks by swarms of smaller vessels. Also participating is the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter. Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Austal USA builds the second LCS variant in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

-- In another first involving an unmanned systems, an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft fired a Hellfire missile at a sea-going target for the first time in a maritime test at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The test was during Eglin's Weapons Systems Evaluation Program over the Gulf of Mexico on March 16. The missile hit a boat that was being towed by another remotely-controlled vessel. (Post)

-- The first of 13 production QF-16 drones was delivered to the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on March 11. The QF-16s will eventually replace the QF-4 as the next generation representative aerial target at Tyndall and Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The 82nd ATRS is a geographically separated unit of the 53rd Wing, headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The first QF-16 for developmental testing arrived at Tyndall in November 2012. (Post)

In memory
Hundreds gathered Friday night on Navarre Beach in a final show of respect for 11 servicemen who died March 10 when a UH-60 helicopter crashed in Santa Rosa Sound during a training mission. Donated Army and Marine flags have been flying on the Navarre Beach Pier since the crash. In a ceremony Friday night those flags were retired. (Story)

Meanwhile, Eglin Air Force Base concluded active recovery efforts Saturday. The Safety Investigation Board from the Army Combat Readiness Center, Fort Rucker, Ala., has convened and Eglin has transferred responsibility of the accident site to the investigation board. All recovered human remains have been transferred to Dover Air Force Base, Del. (Post)

The Louisiana Army National Guard during the week released the names of the four guardsmen, all part of the Guard's 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion in Hammond. The seven Marines from Camp Lejeune were identified earlier. (Post)

Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., will host the Gulf Coast Salute 2015 air show and open house April 11-12. The show will feature the Air Force Thunderbirds flying demonstration team, the Army Golden Knights parachute team and the F-22 Raptor aerial demonstration team. Admission and parking for the show is free. Shuttle bus transportation is to be provided from the parking area to the flight line. (Post)

A2R of Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $23.6 million, five-year laboratory services contract from NASA. A2R will be responsible for providing technical services for laboratory operations at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. … Raytheon Co., Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $91.6 million modification to exercise the option on previously awarded contract for Lot 8 of the Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer missile. Contractor will provide 250 MALD-J missiles. Work will be performed at Tucson and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2017. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

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