June 11, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation stressed their desire to allow locals to return to work at Vance Air Force Base and for CSC and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) to begin broader negotiations in earnest.
Leading the delegation in this effort, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said, "I am concerned for the local workers that will begin to feel the financial pinch if their pay checks do not resume. During these difficult economic times, I understand that increasing health costs and pay increases are especially important issues. I am concerned about the entire community of Enid who will also be impacted by the strike. While I was in Enid last Sunday night, I heard legitimate concerns from both sides of the table. None of the issues I heard were impassable. If the negotiations are taken out of the hands of outsiders and given to Gary Richardson and Jerry McCune, I believe we'd get Vance back flying again.
Inhofe continued, "Because of the strike, damage has already been done that will make saving Vance in the future more difficult. However, that damage can be minimized if workers are allowed to return to work under the offer of a 30-day bridge contract with the assurance by both CSC and IAMAW that negotiations will resume. It is vital that work resume before classes of pilots are shipped off to other training venues."
"Vance Air Force Base has been a leader in training American pilots and, especially during a time of war, it would be devastating to see this mission transferred out of Oklahoma. It is critical to the Air Force and the town of Enid that an acceptable solution to this labor dispute is reached soon. It is my hope and belief that the parties involved will do what is right as quickly as possible," said Senator Tom Coburn, M.D.
Congressman Frank Lucas commented, "The current labor dispute at Vance Air Force Base continues to be hard on the economy of Enid and on the families stationed there. In addition, I am very concerned about the long term effects this strike may have on the future of Vance as well as the entire community of Enid. In the past, Vance has served as a model for how a successful base can thrive. I encourage all parties involved in negotiations to come to a fair compromise that will get the planes back in the air as quickly as possible."
Congresswoman Mary Fallin said, "As I told both parties this weekend, it is extremely important for this dispute to be resolved as quickly as possible. Vance Air Force Base is an important part of our national pilot training and plays an absolutely vital role in the health of the surrounding community. Keeping our planes grounded is threatening the future of this base as well as the economic security of its employees and the men and women of Enid. A 30 day bridge contract will allow us to get Vance up and running while the CSC and IAMAW work out a more permanent settlement."
Congressman Dan Boren added, "As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I believe that the longer this drags on the more it harms everyone involved. A resolution can only be reached if all parties come to the table in a constructive and reasonable manner. The employees, the base, and the community of Enid all greatly depend upon each other for the success of this negotiation, just as they do at any other time. I thank Senator Inhofe and Congressman Lucas for their leadership on this issue and I look forward to working with the Delegation to facilitate an amenable solution for all involved."
Congressman Tom Cole stated, "The Vance Air Force Base needs to be positioned for long-term success - this means continuing the negotiations and sorting through the concerns of both parties so that an agreement can be reached. In the interim, the union should proceed responsibly and allow local workers to go back to work. Given the economic downturn, it is critically important for those workers to receive paychecks so that they can care for their families. Our state has never experienced a base closure. Our top priority should be to make sure that Vance remains open and active."