Wichita calls itself the “Air Capital of the World.” That was certainly true during and after the Second World War, but increasingly, Wichita is in danger of becoming the Detroit of the Aircraft Industry.
Recently, after taking a hard line with the Union, Cessna management announced a layoff of 700 employees days after they approved a new contract, through a technicality. Hawker-Beech is going to layoff another 300, all the while working on plans to move to Louisiana. Boeing/Spirit may choose, in the end, not to even bid on the tanker contract.
Like the auto plants in SE Michigan, aircraft plants may be a distant memory in Wichita in another decade.
This past weekend, my family and I attended the Wichita Air Show, at McConnell Air Force base. While it was an exciting and enjoyable show (despite the hours-long waits for shuttle buses to and from the base) one had to wonder what is happening to the American manufacturing industry in general and aircraft manufacturing specifically.
Some will try to blame it all on the Unions, but that is hardly the reason that so many manufacturing jobs are headed south, literally and figuratively. The union man has been vilified by the Right for more than a quarter century, for his supposed greed and alleged lack of sufficient work ethics.
In Europe, the union and company work together to a mutual benefit. Japan has recovered from their “lost decade” and is working back to where they were years ago. Despite dire warnings to the contrary, American workers can still provide a productive work force for American companies.
In the end, America has become a nation that produces very little. It doesn’t have to be this way. Greedy company CEO’s and Senior Management have been focused on the wrong issues and now are blaming the workers for their failures.
The Air Show was a great spectacle, but it may be a dieing event.
William Stephenson Clark
(Blog header and thread photos by the author – yes, I will change the blog header back.)