Union opposes Hawker Beechcraft sale

July 18, 2012 at 8:57 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 18 (UPI) -- The proposed sale of Hawker Beechcraft assets to a Chinese company is being opposed by a U.S. union.

"The proposed sale of Hawker Beechcraft to a Chinese government-backed entity has broad implications for the U.S. economy and national security," said Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

"The sale should not be rushed through without adequate scrutiny by all interested parties, including federal regulators, state officials and the Wichita (Kan.) community.

"As the necessary review process has not yet commenced, giving Superior the exclusive right to negotiate the purchase of Hawker at this time is premature."

Hawker Beechcraft Inc. on Tuesday announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved the company's motion to enter into exclusive negotiations with Superior Aviation Beijing Co. Ltd. for a 45-day period.

As part of the exclusivity deal, Superior will make payments over the next month to sustain Hawker Beechcraft's jet business.

"Any definitive agreement reached with Superior would be subject to approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and other regulatory agencies," Hawker Beechcraft said. "In addition, any definitive agreement with Superior will be subject to termination if another potential purchaser succeeds in the mandatory competitive auction process which will be overseen by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court."

In a court filing, the union said it was concerned that the sale of the company to a Chinese company "could facilitate the transfer of valuable commercial and military-related technology to China" and also lead to the loss of jobs in the United States.

"While Superior claims that it does not intend to purchase or control Hawker's defense-related businesses, Superior would retain an interest in the defense businesses and would be entitled to receive proceeds from the eventual sale of those businesses," Buffenbarger said. "Such terms and conditions warrant the most serious scrutiny from members of Congress and the appropriate intelligence agencies."

More than 3,500 Hawker Beechcraft workers are represented by the union, which added that the sale agreement would require the company to scrap pension plans of its members.

"The prospect of lost pension benefits for Hawker's workers, while China's aerospace industry benefits from the transfer of valuable U.S. technology is simply outrageous," said IAM Aerospace Coordinator Ron Eldridge.

Hawker Beechcraft has headquarters in Wichita.

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