The Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO strongly condemns the passage of H.R. 1120, in the House of Representatives.
This legislation is another example of the all-out assault by many Republicans on the National Labor Relations Board and on basic workers protections. While 10 Republicans stood up for workers’ rights and voted “no” on H.R. 1120, the vast majority of Republican members voted for the bill’s passage.
The bill would “prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from taking any action that requires a quorum of the members of the Board until such time as Board constituting a quorum shall have been confirmed by the Senate.” Meanwhile the Republicans have frustrated the appointment of qualified leadership to the NLRB through parliamentary tactics.
“The passage of this bill is just another example of the cynical Republican policies designed to frustrate the rights of workers on the job and the utter disdain for the vital work that the NLRB performs,” said Ron Ault, president of the Metal Trades Department.
Washington, D.C.—A bipartisan coalition of labor unions and maritime business owners affiliated with the Shipbuilding Council of America have jointly sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass a defense appropriations bill and avoid sequestration cuts before the Navy begins widespread lay-offs and cancellation of ship maintenance on February 15, 2013.
In the letter the coalition stresses that “If no action is taken, the magnitude and indiscriminate nature of sequestration coupled with the 2013 Continuing Resolution will trigger significant reductions in operating budgets across the United States Joint Forces, degrading our military readiness and resulting in economic harm to workers and communities across the country.”
Explaining that the situation has “profound consequences for America’s workers and communities,” the letter urges Congress to pass a budget before February 15, 2013 and that failure to do so would result in:
- Up to 46,000 Department of Defense civilian employees will be immediately laid off.
- Another 800,000 workers will face furlough days resulting in a 20 percent pay cut.
- More than 100,000 people could lose jobs in the shipbuilding and repair industry and our supply chain.
The letter continues outlining the already dire consequences of inaction on the federal budget citing the February 6, 2013, Navy cancellation of the deployment of the U.S.S. Harry Truman aircraft carrier strike group, which had been scheduled to deploy to the Persian Gulf later that week. “This leaves the United States with only one aircraft carrier in place to provide critical air power for our troops in that volatile region. Looking ahead, the Navy plans to cancel all 3rd and 4th quarter repair and availabilities to address budget shortfalls due to another continuing resolution.”
The letter is signed by Ron Ault, President of the Metal Trades Department and the presidents of its affiliated unions including Patrick D. Finley, Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons; Thomas Buffenbarger, IAMAW; Joseph Nigro, SMWIA; James A. Williams, IUPAT; James T. Callahan, Operating Engineers; Newton Jones, IBB; Gregory Junemann, IFPTE; William Hite, UA; William R. Dougan, NFFE; and David J. Holway, NAGE. It is also signed by Frank Foti, SCA Chairman, CEO Vigor Industrial and the more than 100 maritime business owners who make up the Shipbuilding Council of America.
Addressing job losses in the letter the coalition explains “the jobs to be lost are in all 50 states, not just Navy homeports and coastal areas. Highly skilled workers will be laid off and might leave the industry altogether. Communities where these workers live will feel the effects in reduced support for local businesses and reduced revenue for schools and local municipal services at a time when our economy is just beginning to show signs of recovery. Many small businesses, and minority-, veteran-, women-owned and disadvantaged companies, face going out of business. New workers, including veterans, will not be hired.” And that “Once lost, many of these jobs will not return to our economy.”
For Immediate Release: October 24, 2012
Contact: Ron Ault, 202-341-2036
Yesterday Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and others made statements attempting to capitalize on President Obama’s comments on Shipbuilding during the final Presidential Debate. As the organization that represents the workforce at the Naval Shipyards the Metal Trades Department President Ron Ault responds.
Ron Ault, President of The Metal Trades Department:
“The Metal Trades represents the workforce at the Naval Shipyards and the Norfolk Navy Public Works Centers at the Norfolk Naval Operations Base as well as at private shipyards that build naval warships- President Obama correctly pointed out it is about the capability of our Naval warships- not just the quantity of ships. We are building the most versatile, most capable technologically advanced warships in the world, fully capable of engaging multiple targets simultaneously.
“I was personally present at the christening ceremonies of the USS America, LHA 6, under construction at Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, this past Saturday, the fourth ship named America is a new class of big deck amphibious aircraft carrier designed to be active in the US fleet until at least 2053. The crew that will man the America in 2053 will face yet unknown mission requirements. Our ships are designed to be adaptable and capable to successfully fight and win battles with yet unknown foes in yet unknown conflicts. There is no other Navy in the world that has the Navy America has, nor the technologies and fighting/survivability of our ships. America is far and away superior to any of the Navies of any nation on earth.
“I am proud to represent the world best shipbuilders and the very best ship repair/maintenance workforce. I took no insult from our President’s remarks nor did I see any reason for anyone in the shipbuilding or ship repair industry to. He simply spoke the truth. The Navy ships we build today are built for multi-missions to be able to respond to yet unknown missions of the future and are without question the most capable, most versatile warships ever built by any nation.”
The Administration appreciates the House Armed Services Committee’s continued support of our national defense and supports a number of the provisions in H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. In particular, the Administration appreciates the support of the Committee for authorities that assist the ability of the warfighter to operate in unconventional and irregular warfare, counter unconventional threats, or support contingency or stability operations. The Administration is disappointed, however, with the many provisions in this bill that impede the ability of the Secretary of Defense to carry out the 2012 defense strategic guidance.
While there are a number of areas of agreement with the Committee, the Administration has serious concerns with provisions that: (1) depart from the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2013 Budget request – in particular, increases to the topline request for the base budget; (2) constrain the ability of the Armed Forces to carry out their missions consistent with the new defense strategy; or (3) impede the ability of the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy to make and implement management decisions that eliminate unnecessary overhead or programs to ensure scarce resources are directed to the highest priorities for the national security. The overall funding level supported by H.R. 4310 would violate the Budget Control Act of 2011, the bipartisan agreement reached between the Congress and the President to put the Nation on a sustainable fiscal course. If the cumulative effects of the bill impede the ability of the Administration to execute the new defense strategy and to properly direct scarce resources, the President’s senior advisors would recommend to the President that he veto the bill.
VIEW THE FULL STATMENT FROM THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION >
Changes Will Put Nuclear Workers, Public Health and Safety at Risk
Washington, DC—The Metal Trades Department and its affiliated unions strongly oppose HR 4310 House Armed Services Committee’s 2013 National Defense Authorization bill—especially provisions changing the nuclear weapons worker health and safety programs.
The Metal Trades points to objections raised by Dr. Peter Winokur, Ph.D, Chairman, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, that proposed changes are based on a misunderstanding of research into work practices at nuclear laboratories.
Provisions included in the pending bill would shift the entire safety & health program to NNSA and eliminate current DOE worker health and safety standards and enforcement, substituting ineffective standards and “performance-based” oversight.
Contrary to claims that the bill would simply subject NNSA facilities to the same requirements as those under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the bill would eliminate workplace inspections and strip away protection against retaliation for raising safety and health concerns. It would eliminate any requirements for employers to record and report injuries and illnesses.
According to Dr. Peter Winokur the proposed changes to health and safety oversight at the nation’s nuclear facilities are based on a misunderstanding by the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee’s of the research and testimony of Dr. Shank, Co-Chair of the Committee to Review the Quality of the Management and of the Science and Engineering Research at the DOE’s National Security Laboratories. Dr. Winokur maintains that Dr. Shank focused his review on the need for laboratories to do research more efficiently and effectively, and how to improve morale at the laboratories. His committee did not review the high-hazard complex nuclear operations or any associated consequences of operations.
“[T]his testimony should not be used as the basis to argue against the need for independent oversight or eliminate transactional oversight at defense nuclear facilities,” Dr. Winokur asserted in a May 7, 2012 letter to Hon. Loretta Sanchez, Ranking Member Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Committee on Armed Services, Dr. Winokur is opposed to the proposed switch from “transitional oversight” to “performance-based oversight”.
We applaud the President’s commitment to job creation—especially in the area of infrastructure and transportation improvements. Although it was not mentioned directly, we believe that the initiatives outlined in the President’s words can and should embrace the concepts behind the American Marine Highway because the President and his Administration, along with congressional leaders from both parties have already endorsed the concept; because the federal investment requirements are relatively miniscule while the job creation potential is enormous; because the time is right; because the need is great; because the conditions are favorable; and because it will mean continued and expanded employment in shipbuilding and maritime occupations nationwide; because it could also result in sustaining a critical national asset—the Avondale shipyard in New Orleans.
Moving forward aggressively on the American Marine Highway will immediately inject new energy and resources into our economy and immediately result in new hiring in good paying middle class jobs.
The unions of the Metal Trades Department look forward to working with the President and his Transportation Department to bring this concept to fruition.
One of the most immediate results of that initiative can and should be a new and brighter outlook for employment security for the skilled men and women who can and who should build the ships to ply that American Marine Highway employed at Avondale Shipyard in New Orleans. When the White House and Congress begin fleshing out this jobs bill we urge that they make certain to include the American Marine Highway as an integral part of the plan.