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Union Joins Campaign to Save Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The union that represents some workers at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is stepping up the fight against the proposed base closing. Members met with staffers at the local offices of Congressmen Tom Reynolds and Brian Higgins, Congresswoman Louis Slaughter and Senator Charles Schumer Tuesday.

With the Base Closure and Realignment Commission set to hold a hearing in Buffalo Monday, several members of the Service Employees International Union Local 200 are lobbying against the proposed closing of the Falls base. They met with congressional staffers, asking that the Western New York delegation put as much pressure on the Pentagon as possible.

"We are here. We are the tip of the sword. We fight the wars. We are pulling more deployments then the active duty force right now," said Gary Broderick, the union's steward for communications. The SEIU represents only 100 workers at the Reserve Station, but it is trying to drum up as much support as possible to save all base jobs. The Pentagon's proposed plan is to move the Air Force Reserves 914th Airlift Wing and its C-130 planes to a base in Little Rock, Arkansas, and tankers from the 107th to a base in Bangor, Maine. Broderick says closing the Falls base would create a new threat to national security.

"That is two targets. Didn't we learn anything from Pearl Harbor? Why would you concentrate everything in one small space so the terrorists only have one or two targets to take out an entire capability that the United States Air Force has?" Borderick asked. "That just doesn't make sense."

Broderick and other union members are also speculating that the Pentagon's base closing and realignment proposals would lead to a reinstatement of the military draft.

"Once they break the back of the Guard and Reserves -- because that is what they seem to be doing -- they are not going to have enough personnel to do it," Broderick said. "They are going to have to reinstitute the draft. That is the only way they are going to get enough people to service all aircraft."

The union is also urging the public to line up at 7:30am Monday along Lockport Road at the main gates of the base to show their support for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

The BRAC Commission will hold the public hearing between 1:00pm and 5:00pm Monday at UB's Center for the Arts.