HAMBURG, Germany – Two trade agreements signed by Washington’s Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee on Friday have the potential to create new jobs for the state’s residents while also generating new opportunities for Washington aerospace companies.
That’s according to Machinists Union District Lodge 751 representatives who took part in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s trade mission to Europe.
“This is the kind of good that happens when business, labor and government work together for the benefit of all,” said Jesse Cotte, a District 751 staffer who is AJAC’s chairman. “These deals will provide Washington residents – including potentially some of our members – with new opportunities for good-paying aerospace careers.”
Both of the deals signed Friday involved German companies and AJAC, the state-funded apprenticeship committee that is strongly supported by District 751.
The first deal was with AJAC and Capable Technologies, a Hamburg-based aerospace consulting firm.
Under terms of the deal, Capable Technologies will help Washington state’s second- and third-tier aerospace suppliers land more work with Airbus, by teaching them about Airbus business practices and production requirements.
In return, AJAC will help Capable Technologies’ European clients to better compete for Boeing supplier contracts.
The goal is two-fold, said Laura Hopkins, who is AJAC’s executive director and a former District 751 Machinist.
For starters, “we’re helping suppliers in Washington access European markets,” Hopkins said. Many companies – like Triumph Composites in Spokane, where workers are part of Machinists Union Local 86 – already are doing work for Airbus. With the new agreement, they should be able to land more work with both Airbus and its top-tier suppliers, she said.
The second potential benefit is that European suppliers who land contracts to do Boeing work are more likely to either set up secondary operations in Washington, in order to be closer to final assembly lines – or even more to the state entirely.
Either one would create more work for Washington residents, Hopkins said.
Friday’s second trade deal involved AJAC and Lufthansa Technical Training, which trains workers for Lufthansa Technik, which is the largest commercial-jet maintenance and repair company in Europe.
Under the terms of that deal, Lufthansa Technical Training will help AJAC set up one-of-a-kind program in North America to train jet maintenance and repair mechanics to meet standards laid out by EASA – the European Aviation Safety Agency.
EASA is one of two global airline safety agencies – the other being the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States – and generally, its training standards for mechanics are considered to be higher than those imposed by the FAA. As a result, most airlines outside the United States comply with EASA standards.
Once Washington has a school training jet maintenance mechanics to meet the EASA standards, companies will be able to bid on contracts to do repairs and overhauls on planes operated by overseas airlines, Hopkins said.
The deal also brings Washington one step closer to its goal of being the world leader in aerospace training and education, she said.
Gov. Gregoire praised the two deals, saying that it’s not enough for Washington to be just the largest aerospace cluster in the world, it also has to remain a step ahead of the rest of the world in terms of quality.
During a visit to Airbus’ Hamburg plant, where it assembles A320 jets and installs interiors for A380s, Gregoire reminded Airbus executives that Washingon state is home to the second-largest group of Airbus suppliers in the United States.
“We are very proud of our workforce,” the governor said. “We are very proud of our suppliers. We very much want to keep doing business with you and your team.”
Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 28,000 working men and women at 44 employers across the states of Washington, Oregon and California. They are among the more than 35,000 Machinists Union members working for airlines and aerospace manufacturers in Washington state.
In 2010, District 751 workers ratified contracts with 22 employers without a single workday lost to strikes.
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