Join Us

Sign up for the lastest information from the IBEW!

Related ArticlesRelated Articles



Print This Page    Send To A Friend    Text Size:
About Us

(This is the second in a two-part series about IBEW members who work for NASA)

November 2004 IBEW Journal

Contractors Come
and Go: IBEW Stays

Since 1972, Local 543 has represented a diverse cut of the Goldstone work forcefrom cooks and electricians to janitors and technicians. Koger recalls that when she was hired, Goldstone tracked manned space missions. Currently only unmanned missions are followed. "The last person we tracked in space was former Senator and astronaut John Glenn, five years ago," Koger said.

The IBEW has seen contractors come and go at Goldstone beginning with Ford Aerospace, followed by Bendix, Allied Signal, Honeywell and finally, ITT. The revolving door of contractors at most NASA facilities (see box), keeps many local unions in a state of perpetual bargaining.

The IBEW secured a commitment from ITT in 2003 to honor the existing agreement that was bargained with Honeywell. The schedules can be demanding. Heck worked middle shift for five years before using his seniority to transfer to daylight hours. "I feel like I have a normal life again since I went back to working days, after working middle shift," says Scott Heck.

Current rates of pay for bargaining unit members range from $16 per hour for janitors to over $25 per hour for technicians. The local won an agreement from ITT to consider pay upgrades for members who, according to Ray Gibson, are "constantly in learning mode."

Space Explorations
Discoveries Belong to All

70 meter antenna-Goldstone Deep Space Communications Center

Gibson, the self-defined "space person" says, "So much of the technology that we didnt have 10 years ago came from the space program." But, when federal budget deficits are grabbing headlines, are the discoverieswhich IBEW members fought to preserve at Goddard Space Centerand the innovations emerging from Goldstone, worth their price?

The answer is as close as your cell phone, your digital camera or your latest CAT scan. Todays wireless communications are the direct product of data transmissionsby deep space antennasthe work of Brotherhood members in California and other locations throughout the U.S.

Digital image processing derived from the Ranger spacecraft of the 1960s. Computer Aided Tomography (CAT) scanning and ultrasounds were born in the digital images of space sent back to Earth by the Mariner 4 probe in 1965.

More recently, the same miniaturization technology that created spacecraft sensors has led to the development of equipment that can detect cataclysmic medical and geological occurrences from cancer to earthquakes.

In 1966 Isaac Asimov, the science fiction writer and the inspiration for the box-office hit "I Robot," wrote Fantastic Voyage, featuring a miniaturized doctor roving a patients body to clear a blood clot. Today, the JPL has come a hairs breadth of this mythical world, contributing to the development of a camera chip that is inserted in a pill. The pill, once swallowed, can photograph a human digestive system.

The sensing systems on the Mars Odyssey mission that detected frozen water on Mars may, according to a JPL brochure, "have applications for remote detection of materials on Earth."

One of Twin Rovers getting ready to drill into a rock on Mars

While some IBEW members converse with robots on Mars and others support tests on robotics for the Hubble mission, the results are helping to develop a new generation of telerobots. These machines are in hospital operating rooms, performing delicate procedures on the brain, eye, ear, nose, throat, face and hands.

These accomplishments of the space program have left a legacy widely respected by a powerful scientific community.

From every indication, U.S. political leaders share this respect. A strong bipartisan consensus supports the need to expand space exploration and its rich spin-off of technological innovation.

As the space program moves into new generations of discovery, IBEW members at Goddard, Goldstone and other NASA facilities throughout the United States are working at very demanding jobsmostly behind the scenesoften around the clockto open doors to the universe.




Page 1
Page 2

IBEW Supports NASA Across Nation

Doors... Part I