WASHINGTON, 11 Jan. 2008. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is calling on the U.S. Department of Commerce to suspend a new program that allows companies in China to gain expedited access to sensitive U.S. aerospace technology, including telecommunication and composites technologies with potential military applications.
"It is naive to assume that relaxing export restrictions on sensitive aerospace technology does not represent a significant threat to U.S. jobs, companies, and communities," said IAM International president Tom Buffenbarger. "It is equally naive to ignore the national security implications of such technology transfers to China."
In a letter to the Under Secretary of the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security, Buffenbarger took issue with one company in China that was recently approved for such expedited technology transfers under the Commerce Department's Validated End-User program.
"The approval of one of these companies, Boeing Hexcel AVIC I Joint venture, will involve work on the Boeing 787 program that could have been performed by U.S. workers," says Buffenbarger. "We find it very difficult to believe that your actions are good for U.S. workers or the U.S. economy."
The Boeing Hexcel venture represents additional national security concerns, according to a report by the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, an independent research foundation that monitors the spread of arms technology. "Reducing control on exports to such companies increases the risk that American goods will help China improve its armed forces, and that American goods will be sent illicitly to Syria or Iran." The Wisconsin Report also noted that Boeing and Hexcel have been cited in the past for multiple violations of export controls.
The IAM is among the nation's largest labor unions, representing nearly 720,000 members in manufacturing, transportation, shipbuilding, and defense-related industries.
The Wisconsin Project Report is available online at http://www.wisconsinproject.org/pubs/reports/2007/inchinawetrust.pdf.