The fight for saving jobs at Red River Army Depot is gaining union support and congressional representatives seeking answers about if it will be chosen for another repair mission, according to two press releases Friday.
The Machinists Union (IAM) is mobilizing its membership and working with elected officials to fight against the latest round of announced layoffs to strike Red River Army Depot and the Texarkana, Texas community, according to the first press release.
The layoff of about 207 defense contract employees and 98 federal term employees by Aug. 31 was announced earlier this month. If the layoffs proceed, more than 900 RRAD federal and contract workers will have been let go in the last four months, according to the machinists' union press release.
"We have serious questions about the affect this drastic reduction in workforce will have on the Army's ability to fulfill its mission, not only today but for years to come," said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. "The Machinists are doing everything we can to stop these layoffs and will continue to make every resource available for our members, their families and the entire Texarkana community."
Most recently, the IAM lobbied successfully to include an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act requiring each branch of the military to complete a long-term study of depot maintenance workforce needs.
The IAM has met multiple times with congressional delegations in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma to protect jobs at RRAD. As a result of the IAM's efforts, six U.S. Senators sent a letter on July 12 to the commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command to bring the necessary work to RRAD to stop the dismantling of the highly-skilled workforce.
The second press release dated Friday has U.S. Reps. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, and Bruce Westerman seeking an update on whether RRAD will be chosen to service as the Depot Source of Repair for specific project: the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV).
A University of Arkansas economic study commissioned by the IAM shows that the previous round of layoffs alone, totaling 585 jobs, would slash the region's economic output by $255 million and result in the loss of more than 400 jobs in the community, according to the union press release.
"The layoffs occurring at Red River Army Depot are a bad idea for this country," said NFFE-IAM National President Randy Erwin. "The work done at Red River is critical to supporting the war fighter. If we need to ramp up production in the event of conflict, we won't have the capacity to do it if these layoffs continue."
"The study reinforces what the IAM has been saying since the start," said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Mark A. Blondin. "Laying off more workers at Red River Army Depot just brings further devastation to a community that's already been pummeled by these actions. This is going to be a financial drain in the millions for the region of Texarkana, in all the surrounding states. Our fight isn't about just saving union jobs. This is about saving entire communities. From a fiduciary standpoint, the numbers just don't add up."
The Machinists Union and its affiliate, the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE-IAM), represent approximately 2,200 employees at RRAD.
IAM Local 1243 represents federal contract employees and NFFE-IAM Local 2189 represents federal term employees. The Machinists Union represents 600,000 active and retired members in the aerospace, defense, transportation, woodworking, federal and other sectors. To learn more about the IAM, visit goIAM.org.
Red River Army Depot, established in 1941, is a U.S. military combat system and tactical vehicle repair and maintenance facility just west of Texarkana, Texas.