As more people receive a COVID-19 vaccination, the airline industry is bouncing back as passengers return to the skies. In turn, airlines are confident in forecasted travel and have placed orders for new aircraft.
The America’s Work Force Union Podcast Independent Labor Voice, Tom Buffenbarger, joined the show to discuss what these orders could mean for union families. He also touched on how some of the work may be lost to non-union workers in So-Called “Right to Work” states.
United orders new planes
Buffenbarger discussed the massive order of 270 new aircraft by United, to be made by Boeing and Airbus. The purchase includes 200 of the aircraft built by Boeing. The order includes the 737 MAX 8 and the 737 Max 10 aircraft.
Working families in Everett, Wash. stand to gain from the order, as the Boeing production facility in Everett employs members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
However, these jobs could go to a non-union production facility in South Carolina if Boeing so chooses. Labor is much cheaper in South Carolina, as the production facility is staffed by non-union workers. Buffenbarger said industry deregulation may lead to this choice, since Boeing is not mandated to use the highly skilled union labor in Washington.
Hollowing out of the middle class
Over time, corporations have made a concerted effort to move jobs out of the U.S. These companies favor countries with lower standards for labor, offer lower wages and are closer to places where materials are produced for a cheaper rate.
The same thing is happening in Morgantown, W.V., where a company called Mylan is planning to move over 1,000 jobs to India. Buffenbarger said the United Steelworkers has reached out to U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, who typically positions himself as a worker-friendly politician.
Buffenbarger believes Sen. Manchin’s personal connection to Mylan is clouding his judgement. Sen. Manchin’s daughter is an executive at Mylan, who stands to gain financially from the move. He added that the USW will keep pushing Sen. Manchin to take action.