UAW Local 848

Press Conference - August 21, 2012

UAW, City Council, and School Board Members convene for the press conference along with State Rep. Alonzo and members of the Media.

 
"Keep the Jefferson Plant Open!"

If anybody anywhere thought UAW Local 848 members were going to sit by like sheep while somebody maneuvered to take away some of our jobs, they must have received a shock on August 20-21 when union leadership became aware of the threat. Local 848 members are signing petitions, making calls, and making contacts to make the demand that the Jefferson Facility remain open despite ominous recent events involving the sale of the land underneath it. A capacity crowd turned out to the union hall on Tuesday, August 21, to discuss what we knew so far and to put our best thinking into solutions. There were about 100 people seated in chairs and the rest only had standing room.

President Romeo Munoz started the meeting. He welcomed the big turnout of members, the political and community leaders who had come, and newspersons from at least four television stations and three newspapers. He said that a sale is underway and that Triumph management believed that costs from the new owner might make it impossible for them to keep the facility open. He went on to explain that the proposed buyer was getting 110 acres and buildings for a very cheap price of between $350,000 and $400,000. He added that Local 848's leadership considers this a very serious threat to our members' jobs. President Munoz then went on to say that Governor Perry has the ability to stop this sale and that our members must focus on him and on the Commissioners of the Texas Committee for Environmental Quality, all of whom are appointed by the Governor.

Triumph Chairman Russell Strowd then read a news release that management had just released. It said that the new owner's requirements would double their operating costs and cause them to have to consider "other options." Strowd said that the sale of the Jefferson facility would require a very expensive cleanup to meet federal environmental laws, and that $25 million might be required for it.

Gene Lantz thanked the membership on behalf of the retirees, who depend completely on having a strong union to defend their rights. Grand Prairie School Board members Tony Shotwell and Terry Brooks (who is also a Local 848 Committeeman) pledged support to the union members. State Representative Roberto Alonzo pledged all his support and went on to say that Grand Prairie would not exist without our membership.

Then President Munoz asked the newspersons to ask their questions. Some of them had already gotten information from Triumph management and from the prospective buyer. The buyer was apparently saying that the company's estimate of future costs was exaggerated. The union leaders said that we cannot be responsible for what the big financiers say, but that we would stand fast together to defend our jobs. Chairman Russell Strowd went on to explain that Grand Prairie and other North Texas communities would be devastated by the threatening economic blow.

President Munoz then asked the newspersons and other non-members to leave so that Local 848 members could have our discussion privately. A great many union members made comments and asked questions.

Could a significant amount of the work be moved to the Marshall Street plant?

Could Triumph move the machinery and work to the new facility they are building in Red Oak, Texas?

Somebody makes big money when work is moved from one place to a place where labor is cheaper. Who gets that money?

Would it be possible for our members to pool their money and buy the Jefferson facility?

May we open a campaign to get more political and community leaders on our side?

Can we pressure other people outside state government?

May we start asking local merchants to join our fight for keeping the plant open?

One of the best comments came after the meeting. Brother Lamon Scott was watching a TV crew put up their equipment in the parking lot. He commented, "We have to stick together. We don't have any choice. The only possible way to win is if we stick together!"

 

Below you will find links to download President Munoz's statement and the statement from Triumph Aerostructures that Triumph Chairman Russell Strowd read at the conference.


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