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Administration Finally Reverses No-Bid Military Contract

Americans for Job Security (AJS) has urged the Obama Administration to explain its abrupt disqualification last fall of Wichita-based Hawker Beechcraft from bidding on an almost one billion dollar defense contract to build US military aircraft, a contract the Administration later awarded to Brazilian-owned Embraer without warning.

That is, until recently.

Last week, the U.S. Air Force announced an unprecedented reversal, suspending its contract award to Embraer, and announcing a major investigation into a process the Air Force admitted had become an “embarrassment.”

Following up on this reversal, however, the Administration has taken steps that appear to attempt to ensure Brazil doesn’t feel left out and upset.  A high-ranking State Department official quietly traveled to Brazil last week and seemingly apologized to the Brazilian government for rescinding the contract. This is not only concerning, but somewhat alarming.  We advise not holding your breath waiting until they head to Kansas to apologize to the workers there.

Quite possibly worse is that the Administration remains silent in the face of Brazil’s outrageous warning to the US over its decision. [“Brazil Warns US Over Cancelled Jet Deal.” Financial Times, 03/02/2012].  The Brazilian government’s active involvement throughout this contracting process – subsidies, Golden Share, brazen threats against our country – has been troubling and it confirms that Embraer was, from the outset, the wrong choice for a major US Military defense contract.

On behalf of thousands of American workers, AJS is proud of our successful campaign to force the Administration to explain to the American people why it awarded a no-bid military contract to a foreign company partially owned by the Brazilian government.  AJS believed then, as it does today, that outsourcing a U.S. defense contract – and the almost 1,400 American jobs that go with it- to a foreign country that has long been hostile to America’s foreign policy interests is concerning.

AJS hopes the Administration’s investigative review of its contract process will ensure America’s Hawker Beechcraft, whose aircraft have a long, successful record of training virtually every U.S. military pilot, has a fair opportunity to compete for this important military contract.

American workers who sent nearly 20,000 letters to politicians on Capitol Hill and to key officials inside the Pentagon should be proud of their efforts in standing up to this Administration, demanding to know why our American tax dollars were almost slotted to fund the outsourcing of good paying military construction jobs to Brazil.

Make no mistake – the Administration’s reversal is a major win for American workers, but the fight is not nearly over.  The Administration should consider the loss of shipping these jobs overseas and especially when weighed with our national security needs.

AJS will continue to monitor the U.S. Air Force as it proceeds with its review.

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