WASHINGTON, D.C. (TheStreet) -- The International Association of Machinists, the largest U.S. aerospace union, said it will seek to organize the planned Airbus plant in Mobile, Ala.
"We have every intention to try to organize the facility," said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger, in an interview as he prepared to attend the Farnborough Air Show in England, where he will meet with Airbus officials on Wednesday. "This union has a good relationship with Airbus and I look forward to engaging with them," he said.
Airbus said last week that it will establish a Mobile plant, employing about 1,000 people and producing A320 aircraft, starting in 2016. In the aircraft maker's competition with Boeing (BA), the lack of a U.S. facility has left Airbus hampered by currency fluctuation, limited wage and work rule flexibility and diminished political influence in the U.S., particularly in bidding for defense contracts.
"I'm surprised it has taken them this long," Buffenbarger said.Like many southern states, Alabama has sought to lure industry with the promise of low rates of unionization and "right-to-work" rules that enable workers to benefit from union influence without paying union dues. Nevertheless, Alabama is the most heavily unionized of the 11 states that made up the Confederate States of America. About 10% of Alabama workers are union members, according to 2011 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Alabama's unionization rate is more than three times the 3.2% rate in South Carolina, where Boeing established a non-union plant to assemble 787s, and also more than three times the 2.9% rate in North Carolina, which has the nation's lowest rate of unionized employees. IAM membership in Alabama totals around 6,000. IAM Local 2003 in Daleville, Ala., represents about 5,000 members with 10 contracts at seven employers including defense contractor L-3 Communications (LLL). Several other locals represent several hundred workers at Tennessee Valley Authority and the Huntsville space center. "Workers in Alabama are pretty much like workers in every other state," Buffenbarger said. "They work hard, they are not afraid of unions and they are not afraid of employers. They have a good streak of independence." Buffenbarger said IAM leadership has talked in the past with Airbus executives. "They have been receptive to conversations about how to go forward," he said. "The French leadership is concerned about not making the mistakes that German automotive companies have made in the U.S., and there's a window open to engage in frank and straightforward conversations."
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 Plus 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