"The big question is, will the defense workers of Camden take this oppertunity to change the way its always been, or will they allow this treatment for another generation? - Shawn Vanderjack, Machinists Union Organizer
The IAMAW (Machinists Union) have decided to hold a town hall meeting for defense workers in Camden, AR. The meeting will be held Saturday, December 2nd, at the Carnes Community Center located at Carnes Park in Camden, at 5:00 PM. The Meeting will conclude when the questions and conversations are over. Those who show up late, due to work schedules or personal reasons, are welcome to join whenever they can.
Meeting Rules-This Meeting is for workers only, management will not be permitted to attend, and any attempt made by management to show in or around Carnes Park during this meeting will be considered an act of intimidation and will be met with legal repercussions set forth by the National Labor Relations Act. A text number will be hung up for all to see, so that an anonymous report can be made if someone is not supposed to be there or around the park. We also ask that no photos or recordings be taken, so that people are comfortable in the meeting. Workers may bring their spouses to attend if they wish, this is something that not only affects the worker, but their family as well.
After an outpour of support from workers at Lockheed Martin and Aerojet employees, the IAM has decided to hold this meeting to assess if the workers in Camden want to change the way things are for them and their families. Low wages, forced overtime, PTO they can’t use, empty promises, serious safety concerns, and even cutting benefits in half at a time where production output is at an all-time high. Many of these workers are forced to work 13 days straight, 1 day off and back at it. There is a take it or leave it attitude amongst the DOD contract companies in Camden, and many workers are under the impression that “this is just the way it is.”
The Machinists Union is the largest defense union in North America and represents Lockheed Martin employees at 33 other sites across the US, totaling some 10,300 members.
The Machinists Union represents 7,979 employees working for RTX (formerly Raytheon) and its subsidiary companies at 16 sites across the US.
The Machinists Union represents employees in over 49 sites owned by L3 Harris, (formerly Aerojet) across the US.
The Machinists Union represents employees at General Dynamics at 11 sites with almost 6,000 members.
Statement from Machinists Union Organizer, Shawn Vanderjack.
“The Machinists Union is familiar with these companies in Camden AR, and we believe that if these workers want change, together we can change the work culture here. It is the way it is, because the people allow it. It’s mind-blowing what people can do when they stand as one.”
“I am not “the union”, my members are the union and that’s who I work for. Our business reps who are expert negotiators are nominated and elected off the shop floors, and then put through extensive training to become the best in the labor movement. I was a volunteer for 10 years before I was offered this position.The union is the membership, and every shop we represent was a non union shop at one point, all 6,038 locations that we represent. These were job sites just like the ones in Camden, folks being used like property and thrown out when they burnt out, and being referred to as human capital in the company board meetings… What people don’t realize is this union is a pay it forward organization. Our dues paying members are footing the bill so we can help these job sites at no cost to these workers, in fact, they aren’t asked to pay a dollar in union dues until they vote to accept a contract. This is paid forward by our members, because when they were non-union and getting a bad shake, the members footed the bill to help them. It’s our hope that when we help the workers in Camden and their lives are better, their paychecks are better, and their families get to spend time with them… these workers will also pay it forward, so we can continue helping workers at other job sites across the Country. Dues at Local Lodge 502 in Camden are about $69 a month, we plan on getting them alot more for their money than they have now.”
“This Town Hall will let us know if we should foot the money or move on to another site that wants our help. These workers make up most of the Camden community, if they do this together with community support, they will be unstoppable. The Camden location is the largest concentration of explosive material in the US and has been a DOD manufacturing powerhouse since WWII. Camden was founded by the US Navy as a war effort boomtown. It’s also strategically located within driving distance of populated areas for staffing needs. These companies are not going anywhere, there aren’t many communities that are willing to allow that kind of liability and I mean the real possibility that the community could end up a giant crater… for jobs that pay $15-$19 an hour and work their community members like 3rd world country, human capital. If that conversation ever comes up and I’m sure it will, just think about it for a second. Why are all these missile makers coming to Camden? Do you think anywhere else is willing to have that kind of hazard and risks in their communities? Camden has taken this risk, and the community has owned that, they should be rewarded for it, not used, and bled dry.”
Lockheed plans to up production from 60 units to 96 units within the year at Camden facility.
Aerojet recieves 215 million dollars from US govt to expand and modernize its Camden facility.