FARNBOROUGH, England (TheStreet) -- The 2012 Farnborough Air Show is shaping up as a good one for Boeing (BA), and that's fine with Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists, which represents about 29,000 Boeing workers.
But Buffenbarger said the show also has an ugly side, which involves the lineup of representatives from various countries, states and other jurisdictions trying to lure manufacturing with the promise of lower costs, primarily labor costs. "It's not just the glitz and glamor of watching airplanes do tricks in the sky," he said.
IAM represents about 100,000 workers at aerospace companies including Boeing, Lockheed (LMT) and GE (GE) and at engine makers Pratt and Whitney and Rolls-Royce. The unionized jobs involve highly skilled workers who generally are compensated at high levels. But in nearly every case, distant locales are trying to lure the work. Often, the companies listen eagerly.
Buffenbarger said the only way to protect U.S. jobs is through bargaining. "The issue of job security is important to us, and it's incumbent upon us for that to be something we protect in our contract," he said."The first time I went to Farnborough was two years ago," he added. "I was shocked at what I saw, in the sense that our employers from here were over there trying to pimp our products to other countries with lower wage rates and more onerous labor laws. "China has a big presence, and they want the work," he said. "But it's not just China. You have Vietnam, South Korea and Eastern European countries." Additionally, some U.S. states tout their low unionization rates. At the Farnborough show two years ago, Buffenbarger anonymously visited a booth where South Carolina was seeking to lure aerospace companies, following Boeing's 2009 announcement that it would build a 787 assembly plant in North Charleston. He recalled the scene. "I said to the lady, 'Why should I bring work to South Carolina?' and she said 'because we have a great environment,' and the second thing out of her mouth was 'we are a non-union state. We refuse to allow unions to exist in South Carolina.' I kept asking her questions until she said, 'What company are you with?' I said 'I represent the Machinists union,' and she shut up. She did not expect anyone from the labor movement at the air show.'"
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV