As the leader of our nation’s largest U.S. aerospace and defense labor union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, I will always be dedicated to the principles that are the bedrock of our country’s strength: high-quality U.S. jobs, a robust national defense and a thriving domestic defense-industrial base. These principles are the essence of our mission to safeguard and empower the American workforce.
Our defense programs fortify national security, drive technological innovation and stimulate local economies. Through these programs, we have cultivated a network of highly skilled workers, engineers and support staff who contribute to creating cutting-edge defense equipment that is second to none. These dedicated men and women exemplify the spirit of American manufacturing, producing technology that keeps our military personnel safe and our nation secure.
We recently released a report with a path forward toward a more resilient aerospace and defense industry. One of the central recommendations was to substantially reinforce “Buy American” requirements to ensure that American tax dollars are not only reinvested in the American economy but also prioritize union workers in the federal procurement process.
We recently achieved a significant milestone in our pursuit of these values by urging members of Congress to support initiatives aimed at strengthening domestic content requirements for major defense programs. This rallying call, led by Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., has garnered widespread bipartisan support.
The core of our nation’s defense and economic vitality hinges on our Buy American policy, which embodies our deepest values.
For decades, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, or IAM, has tirelessly worked to reinforce domestic content requirements, ensuring that American manufacturing assumes a central role in confronting our nation’s challenges. This endeavor is not just about bolstering the domestic defense-industrial base; it’s about creating and sustaining hundreds of thousands of high-quality manufacturing jobs within the United States.
By prioritizing American-made products, we invest in the livelihoods of American workers, thus empowering families and communities across our great nation.
But our commitment extends even further. Our brave men and women in uniform, who dedicate their lives to protect our freedoms, deserve nothing less than the best tools available. By enhancing domestic content requirements, we guarantee that our armed forces have consistent access to the highest quality equipment, enabling them to safely and effectively accomplish their missions. We owe it to our military personnel to equip them with the best the United States offers.
As a U.S. Navy veteran and former aircraft assembler at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, I know firsthand the importance of defense manufacturing on our nation’s security.
The support for Buy American is not confined to the IAM; it resonates throughout the labor movement. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO — the largest federation of unions in the United States — stands shoulder to shoulder with us in advocating these policies. It emphasizes Buy American policies, reflecting our shared values and ensuring that government procurement aligns with U.S. labor, environmental, and health and safety standards. By reinvesting taxpayer dollars in domestic products, we forge jobs that support families and communities in cleaner, safer American factories.
The Union Veterans Council has also wholeheartedly endorsed Buy American, underscoring the pivotal role that domestic manufacturing plays in providing our troops with the highest-quality defense products. Our veterans, who understand the significance of American-made equipment in safeguarding our national security, speak from a place of profound experience.
The united endorsements of the IAM, AFL-CIO and the Union Veterans Council underscore the urgency of strengthening domestic manufacturing and our shared commitment to fortify our nation and workforce.
In the face of recent global challenges, we must bolster our domestic capabilities and safeguard our national interests. By unwaveringly supporting Buy American policies, we invest in the future of our nation, enhancing our economy, defense and workforce. This is the path to a stronger, more secure America, and it is one that we must wholeheartedly embrace.
Robert Martinez Jr. is the international president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. He previously served in the U.S. Navy and worked as an aircraft assembler for Lockheed Martin.