Machinists Union Challenges Hawker Beechcraft Sale

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email

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Monday, July 16, 2012

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers today filed papers in U.S. Bankruptcy Court opposing an attempt by Hawker Beechcraft, to expedite the sale of its assets to Superior Aviation Beijing Co., Ltd..

“The proposed sale of Hawker Beechcraft to a Chinese government-backed entity has broad implications for the U.S. economy and national security,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger.

“The sale should not be rushed through without adequate scrutiny by all interested parties, including federal regulators, state officials and the Wichita community. As the necessary review process has not yet commenced, giving Superior the exclusive right to negotiate the purchase of Hawker at this time is premature.”

In its court filing, the IAM expressed serious concern that the sale could facilitate the transfer of valuable commercial and military-related technology to China, leading to the loss of high-skilled, high-paying aerospace jobs while compromising U.S. national security interests.

“While Superior claims that it does not intend to purchase or control Hawker’s defense-related businesses, Superior would retain an interest in the defense businesses and would be entitled to receive proceeds from the eventual sale of those businesses,” said Buffenbarger. “Such terms and conditions warrant the most serious scrutiny from members of Congress and the appropriate intelligence agencies.”

In a news release, the Machinists Union said the proposed Hawker-Superior sale agreement also requires the termination of all three of Hawker’s defined benefit pension plans, including the one for more than 3,500 IAM-represented members employed at Hawker Beechcraft.

“The prospect of lost pension benefits for Hawker’s workers, while China’s aerospace industry benefits from the transfer of valuable U.S. technology is simply outrageous,” said IAM Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge.

A Hawker Beechcraft spokesperson points out its defense business is not part of the sale, and said HBC will comply with the regulatory process.

A federal court hearing in New York tomorrow will determine if Hawker will be granted a 45-day period to negotiate exclusively with Superior.

Hawker Beechcraft issued the following statement regarding the challenge:

"The agreement we have reached with Superior allows us to preserve jobs as the negotiation and restructuring process progresses. Furthermore, our negotiating agreement with Superior has no impact on the timing of regulatory agencies’ reviews. Any definitive agreement reached with Superior would be subject to approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and other regulatory agencies, as well as a further competitive auction process overseen by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. We look forward to working toward a definitive agreement with Superior and continuing to educate all interested parties on the benefits of this agreement and the various mechanisms that are in place to ensure that it is in the best interests of our stakeholders."

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