Last updated: August 25. 2013 1:52AM - 413 Views

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Open letter to

Leon Panetta

An open letter to Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense:

On behalf of the UAW’s more than one million active and retired members, I write to express our concern with the Army’s proposal to end tank modernization. This plan places in jeopardy our armor industrial base and would result in the loss of thousands of good paying manufacturing jobs across the United States.

American workers have been building tanks since 1941 and UAW members in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are proud of our contributions to ensure our armed forces are the best equipped and the most protected. For 20 years, Pentagon policy has been to build tanks today to ensure the ability to do so in the future.

The Army’s proposal, however, puts at great risk this specialized, highly-skilled, high-wage workforce that makes up the unique armor industrial base, which includes over 800 large and small critical suppliers around the United States. It places at risk 1,000 UAW jobs in central Ohio.

The Army’s decision to end tank production severely limits the ability of our nation’s manufacturing sector to react to unforeseen military circumstances, undermining our critical ability to provide additional vehicles when the need arises. More importantly, it makes no sense for U.S. taxpayers. Even if the critical armor industrial base could be reconstituted, it is estimated to cost $1.6 billion to mothball the Abrams production line. Further, building tanks until the Army’s planned restart would cost $1 billion. I strongly urge you to reconsider your policy and maintain funding for the Abrams tank.

— Bob King, president internaional union, United Auto Workers

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