Monthly Archives: March 2016

Just Breaking…Finally Some Good News For Unions

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BREAKING: The Biggest Legal Attack On Unions In Decades Is Dead

by Ian Millhiser Article appearing on ThinkProgress.Org Mar 29, 2016 10:23 am

When the Supreme Court met last January to hear an aggressive attempt to defund public sector unions, the news looked grim for organized workers. All five of the Court’s conservatives seemed ready to accept the plaintiffs’ legal arguments, a result that would have potentially had catastrophic financial consequences for many unions. Then Justice Antonin Scalia died, and the anti-union litigants lost the fifth vote they needed to prevail.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced the widely expected consequence of Scalia’s encounter with his own mortality. In a single-sentence order, the Supreme Court announced that the judgment of a lower court rejecting this effort to defund public sector unions “is affirmed by an equally divided court.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is dead. (For Now)

A four-decade-old opinion protecting public sector unions shall live to see another day. Friedrichs was an attack on what are alternatively called “agency fees” or “fair share fees.”

As ThinkProgress previously explained, Unions are required by law to bargain on behalf of every worker in a unionized shop, even if those workers opt not to join the union. As such, non-members receive the same higher wages (one study found that workers in unionized shops enjoy a wage premium of nearly 12 percent) and benefits enjoyed by their coworkers who belong to the union. Absent something else, this arrangement would create a free-rider problem, because individual workers have little incentive to join the union if they know they will get all the benefits of unionizing regardless of whether they reimburse the union for its costs.

Eventually, unions risk becoming starved for funds and collapsing, causing the workers once represented by a union to lose the benefits of collective bargaining. To prevent this free-rider problem, union contracts often include a provision requiring non-members to pay agency fees. The purpose of these fees is to ensure that non-members do not get something for nothing; they require those non-members to pay their share of the costs of obtaining the benefits of being in a union.

Prior to Friedrichs, the Court took two incremental steps in the direction of an eventual decision abolishing agency fees. Friedrichs was widely expected to be that decision. Instead, with the Court split 4-4, Friedrichs will have no effect and the Court’s previous precedents permitting agency fees will remain good law, binding on all lower court judges.

Ultimately, however, Tuesdays’ non-decision in Friedrichs only heightens the stakes in the battle to replace Scalia. If Scalia is replaced by a relatively liberal justice, whether that new justice is Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland or someone else, then it is exceedingly likely that agency fees will continue to be legal. Should Scalia be replaced by another conservative, however, then Tuesday’s order will likely provide to be only a brief stay of execution for public sector unions

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association Issue:

(1) Whether Abood v. Detroit Board of Education should be overruled and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements invalidated under the First Amendment; and

(2) whether it violates the First Amendment to require that public employees affirmatively object to subsidizing nonchargeable speech by public-sector unions, rather than requiring that employees affirmatively consent to subsidizing such speech.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association Judgment:

Affirmed by an equally divided Court in a per curiam opinion on March 29, 2016…



Another Stunning Move By NC Republican Led Lawmakers

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This article via the NC Justice Center website. March 24, 2016

Statement from Rick Glazier, Executive Director of the NC Justice Center: Discriminatory HB2 is a shameful, restrictive mark on North Carolina’s history that will hurt our state’s residents and economy

RALEIGH (March 24, 2016) —Yesterday will go down as a shameful day in North Carolina’s history, as lawmakers prioritized misguided discrimination above the freedoms of our local government, safety of residents, and very decency that until recently has guided our state’s success. In less than 12 hours, the General Assembly’s special session – held without transparency or serious public input – left the state with a bill that assaults the freedom of our communities to govern themselves, and one that will almost certainly damage the state’s economy. Each facet of House Bill 2 is more shocking than the next. By banning local governments from prohibiting discrimination by private businesses, the bill puts the lives and safety of our gay, lesbian, and transgendered residents at risk. Businesses will be able to discriminate – freely and without recourse – against the diverse range of North Carolinians who simply want to live in their communities without fear. History shows that shutting people out of the economy sidelines quality labor and consumer spending instead of helping boost local spending and economic growth. By restricting the ability of our local governments to raise wages and ensure basic job standards in public contracts, the bill effectively tells those governments what they can and cannot do with their own money. Not only will workers who relied on such contracts for basic benefits and safety standards be left defenseless, weakening the ability of local government to raise wages will also make it harder to create jobs that pay workers enough to afford the basics. And stunningly, thanks to HB2 eliminating the decades old and bedrock right of workers to sue their employer if fired for a discriminatory reason, North Carolina will now be known as one of only two states in the entire country – Mississippi being the other – without any state law protecting private sector employees from workplace discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, or sex. From communities of color and older workers to pregnant women and those fired due to their religious beliefs, this affects North Carolinians from all walks of life. As national outrage, international businesses’ condemnation, and negative press pours in today over yesterday’s session, all make clear that HB2 is nothing short of a disgrace to our state. HB2 makes no one safer – in fact it does just the opposite. It solves no real problems, but creates plenty; it fails to consider the vast experience of 18 other states and over 200 communities (including Columbia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) who operate under the same language as the Charlotte ordinance, all without incident; and once again, harms this state’s business reputation as well as local citizens’ ability to govern themselves. Litigation to stop these harms is sure to follow. We can only hope changes will be made in the upcoming short session to amend or repeal the most detrimental parts of this ill-conceived, poorly vetted, and ideologically motivated bill. FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Rick Glazier,  

This article appearing on…North Carolina News March 23, 2016

Gov. McCrory signs bill overruling Charlotte transgender ordinance

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina General Assembly on Wednesday overrode a Charlotte ordinance set to take effect April 1 that impacts transgender people and Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill Wednesday night. The Charlotte ordinance would have allowed transgender people to use the restroom of their gender identity. The bill — passed during a special session — also included a section on wage and hour laws, where local governments could not impose conditions on how a business pays its employees. The bill passed the House Wednesday afternoon and headed to the Senate for consideration. It passed the Senate 32-0 after Democrats walked out. Just after 10 p.m. the governor’s office said that McCrory signed the bill Wednesday evening.  The new bill goes into effect on April 1, McCrory said.  


RELATED ARTICLE Article appearing on March 30, 2016

Eleven Dems Voted for House Bill 2. We Called to Ask Why.




Eleven hours and ten minutes………. That’s how long it took to ram through House Bill 2, the most extreme anti-LGBT legislation in the entire country, from the first House committee meeting being gaveled to order last Wednesday morning to Governor McCrory’s signature that night. That’s how long it took the legislature’s Republicans to roll back decades of civil rights progress and make us a national laughingstock. But, as McCrory noted in a press release Saturday—posted both by his campaign and the governor’s office and circulated far and wide by state agencies—the Republicans didn’t act alone. Eleven House Democrats joined seventy-one Republicans in this power grab, which not only gutted Charlotte’s antidiscrimination ordinance under the guise of protecting women from imaginary bathroom creeps but also took down LGBT protections and living-wage ordinances all over the state. Which left us wondering: Why were nearly a dozen Dems—all men, almost all from rural areas, and mostly older—willing to give this charade a bipartisan veneer? So we decided to call and offer them a chance to explain their vote. And when they didn’t answer, we called again. And again. And again—until we filled their voice mailboxes. And if that failed, we scoured the Internet to see if they’d made statements to anyone else. Many of them dodged our calls, some rather pathetically—looking at you, William Brisson—but a few provided answers, which we’ve transcribed for you below, edited only for space and clarity. Representative Larry M. Bell, D-Duplin, Sampson, Wayne “It was my understanding that [the ordinance] changed the way people were allowed to use restrooms, and I was not convinced that the present system we use now was broken. I thought men go to men’s bathroom, and ladies go to the ladies’, and I don’t see why Charlotte needed to change that. … “I am African-American, and, to talk about discrimination, I know about that. I could write a book about it, so it’s not anything that deals with a race situation. If you’re born a male or female, I don’t see how that can be discriminatory unless you want to talk to God about it. Males go to the male restrooms; females go to female ones. … “I did not think we should be dealing with that [in a special session] at all, because I didn’t think it was an emergency situation we should have been coming to Raleigh for … . [Republicans] added other things into it—other parts of it—that was discrimination against businesses and so forth.” Representative William D. Brisson, D-Bladen, Johnston, Sampson Reached by phone Monday, Brisson responded to the INDY’s request for comment with, “Nah, I’m good.” Representative Elmer Floyd, D-Cumberland Floyd did not respond to numerous messages seeking comment. Representative Ken Goodman, D-Hoke, Montgomery, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland “I have a sincerely held belief that bathrooms should be private and that they shouldn’t be shared by people of the opposite sex; that was the only part of the bill I was interested in, and I believe the constituents in my district feel the same way. … “I didn’t get to write the bill, so you don’t get exactly what you want all the time. The only part of the bill I was interested in was the transgender bathroom issue. … I think section three-point-two will need another look, which is the right to sue in state court. That eliminates the state remedy for workers being fired for wrongful termination. I would prefer that not be in the bill. “I have gotten a lot of assumptions made that the vote was bigoted, and I certainly don’t want to discriminate against anybody. … I understand how people feel hurt on the bill, but people have sincere beliefs, and that was my reason for voting.” Representative Charles Graham, D-Robeson (Editor’s note: this is verbatim.) “Uhhhh … well … uhhhh … HB 2 … uhhhh …. I voted in favor of that, uh, HB 2, because I was concerned about the safety of our citizens in, um, restrooms. Um, I think it, um, certainly opened the door of opportunity for individuals to, uh, of, uh, of the ordinance, um … and, meaning that, you know, predators, and … folks that had, uh … uhmmm … other intentions would have been allowed to take advantage of that ordinance and certainly wanted to, take care of the, my number one concern was taking care of the safety of our children, ummm, and our citizens in, in, in, in … in public restrooms or private, uh, for that matter. Uhhhm. Well … in this case, public. Um. I wanted to, uh … I felt that the constituents that I represent would want me to vote that way, and of course, uhhhh, I’m, uh, um … you know, a representative of the people of Robeson County, and, umm, I certainly had a lot of, um, folks who encouraged me to not support, support that ordinance, because it would, could have had statewide implications. Of course … uh… that’s why, um, I voted the way I did.” Representative George Graham, D-Craven, Greene, Lenoir Graham did not respond to numerous messages seeking comment. Representative Howard Hunter III, D-Bertie, Gates, Hertford, Pasquotank Hunter did not respond to messages seeking comment, but he told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, “I had my mind locked in on living up to my morals and values that men have no place in a women’s restroom, no matter if that man alleges he identifies himself as a woman psychologically. … “I understand the gay and lesbian community because I have friends, and some colleagues, who are active members of that lifestyle and I accept them for who they are. It’s the transgender community that I don’t know that much about. The transgender community is not out in the open here in the rural areas of our state as it is in the metro areas. Perhaps I need to do a better job of educating myself about transgender individuals.” Representative William O. Richardson, D-Cumberland Richardson did not respond to numerous messages seeking comment. Representative Garland Pierce, D-Hoke, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland Pierce did not respond to messages seeking comment, but he told the Associated Press, “I think some of us, particularly myself, did not understand the implications of what it would do. We heard some criticism of it early on but not the level of what we’re hearing today. Still, everybody has the right to privacy in these facilities.” Representative Brad Salmon, D-Harnett, Lee The INDY reached Salmon by cellphone last Thursday morning. He said he was busy and asked if he could call us back. He did not call back, nor did he respond to repeated follow-up messages. Representative Michael H. Wray, D-Halifax, Northhampton Wray did not respond to numerous messages seeking comment.





NC State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan took to the airwaves last night to expose the anti-worker effects of North Carolina’s controversial new law, H.B. 2 on The Rick Smith Show: The Rick Smith Show is a labor radio program from Central Pennsylvania. The show covers state and local politics and national issues.




“It’s crazy that at a time when our elected officials should be doing all they can to create jobs and get more people employed that they’re actually wasting taxpayer money to create a law that’s gonna make it easier to discriminate and fire people. And in the process, they’re driving business out of our state because these corporations don’t want to do business in a state that supports discrimination.” — MaryBe McMillan, 3/30/16



AFL-CIO Latest News Blog Posted: April 15, 2016, 1:00 pm
Working People in Unions Stand with LGBTQ Brothers and Sisters Against Discrimination

Let’s be clear about North Carolina’s H.B. 2 and other “bathroom laws” popping up in states that would bar transgender people from using the restroom facility of their identified gender: We won’t stand for it.



Hello world! We are in our new home. Be patient as we layout and design a thing of beauty.

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“Historic IAM Journey”

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Martinez Announces Beginning of ‘Historic Journey’ to Grow, Unite IAM

Tuesday March 22, 2016

The IAM is making structural changes to refocus resources toward organizing and membership services while working to foster a more united culture, says IAM International President Bob Martinez.

“It’s a new day with a new vision. A vision we’re putting into action,” Martinez told delegates at the IAM’s recent staff conference in National Harbor, MD. “I believe we’ll bring a vision of unity and fight back to the ranks of our great union.”

The IAM’s future begins and ends with growing the organization, said Martinez. Organizing strategies of the past are simply not working anymore. Employers and anti-union consultants have become too familiar with the IAM’s tactics.

IAM organizers gathered at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center earlier in the week to begin formulating a more flexible organizing strategy.

“We’re entering a historic journey to change our strategy, our culture and the way we think about organizing,” said Martinez.

Martinez says part of that culture change means a tougher stance toward employers who attack the IAM’s membership. He called for an end to long-term collective bargaining agreements without strict job security language. The IAM has put service contractors on notice that the union will fight their bids for government work if they disrespect Machinists at the bargaining table, especially if they’re coming after defined benefit pension plans.

“We must protect, defend and preserve our members in all sectors against corporations, politicians, anti-union and firms anyone else who wishes to hurt our membership and our union,” said Martinez. “We must stand up and fight.”

The IAM must also fight the rise of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who is talking the talk on trade, but is “one of the most anti-union candidates in history,” Martinez said.

Trump’s actions speak louder than his words: He exploits cheap labor from Mexico and China instead of keeping jobs in the U.S. Trump would gut or get rid of federal agencies like the National Labor Relations Board and the National Mediation Board and appoint anti-labor officials throughout the government and to the Supreme Court. Social Security and federal workers would have a target on their backs.

It’s up to IAM members and their State Councils to ensure Trump is stopped, and that IAM-endorsed candidate Hillary Clinton is elected the next president of the United States, said Martinez.

Delegates broke into territorial meetings and gathered to hear more details on political issues from U.S. Legislative Director Hasan Solomon and Canadian Legislative Director Gord Falconer, who it was announced will become Canadian Chief of Staff once Stan Pickthall replaces Dave Ritchie as General Vice President, effective May 1, 2016.

“I am not naive enough to think that this vision of unity and fight will happen overnight, but I am convinced that if we cut costs and refocus resources and assets into a new organizing strategy and new membership programs, that we will grow our great union and put the fight back into the Fighting Machinists,” said Martinez.

Push to Close Export-Import Bank

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Machinists Union Concerned about Sanders’s Continued Push to Close Export-Import Bank

Washington, D.C., March 21, 2016 – Following Sen. Bernie Sanders’s trip to Washington State, IAM International President Bob Martinez issued the following statement in response to Sanders’s comments on the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank:

“The IAM continues to be concerned about Sen. Sanders’s push to end the Ex-Im Bank. The bank means jobs for our members, especially for tens of thousands of working men and women in Washington State. Sen. Sanders’s extreme rhetoric and misguided voting record on this issue is alarming for the 85,000 families across the state who rely on the success of the bank.

“Sen. Sanders is simply wrong on the Ex-Im Bank; it is not ‘corporate welfare.’ It drives the Washington economy, including the high wage aerospace industry, one of the last sectors in which the U.S. enjoys a positive balance of trade with the rest of the world. At no cost to taxpayers, this is a winning program for workers and businesses.”

The IAM is one of the largest industrial trade unions in North America, representing more than 35,000 workers at Boeing among 600,000 active and retired members in dozens of industries.

It’s That Time of the Year Again!!!!

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The time change idea first came from Benjamin Franklin, who published “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” as an essay after realizing the waste it was to burn candles at night, and sleep past dawn. He thought that people were wasting the hours of natural light, and thought it would make a difference if instead time was changed and everyone got up an hour earlier.

The official daylight saving change didn’t happen until World War I, when the need for more fuel increased. It was President Lyndon Johnson who signed the Uniform Time Act in 1966. Weirdly enough, states can still opt out of the time change, and Arizona and Hawaii have chosen to.


Daylight Savings in USA: 2:00 a.m.

Daylight Savings in Arizona: No Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings in Canada: 2:00 a.m.

Daylight Savings in UK: March 27, 1:00 a.m.

Daylight Savings in Brazil: February 21, 12:00 a.m.

Machinists Union Applauds Clinton’s Support of Ex-Im Bank

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Washington, D.C., March 7, 2016 — Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred over the role of the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank during their March 6 debate in Flint, MI. IAM International President Bob Martinez issued the following statement in response:
“Senator Sanders is wrong on the Export Import (Ex-Im) Bank; it is not ‘corporate welfare.’ In a highly competitive global economy, the Ex-Im Bank provides critical support for U.S. exports and American jobs.

“Our global competitors, including China, understand this essential truth and provide more than $1 trillion in trade financing through 60 export credit agencies according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“The Ex-Im Bank enables U.S. manufacturers and workers to compete fairly with our global competitors, particularly in the high wage aerospace industry, one of the last sectors in which the U.S. enjoys a positive balance of trade with the rest of the world. As the largest aerospace union in North America, we in the IAM know firsthand what is at stake. The Ex-Im Bank means jobs for our members, as well as for hundreds of thousands of Americans.

“We are pleased and grateful that Secretary Clinton understands that America cannot afford to unilaterally disarm in face of this intense global competition. We know that as President, Secretary Clinton will continue to provide the leadership to make the Ex-Im Bank a success for American businesses and workers.”

The IAM was the first major industrial trade union to endorse Secretary Clinton for President and represents nearly 600,000 active and retired members across North America. Visit for more information about the Machinists Union.

Wishing for the Luck of the Irish

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St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the saint’s religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage. Since, around the ninth or 10th century people in Ireland have been observing the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17. Interestingly, however, the first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day took place not in Ireland but in the United States. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army. Over the next 35 years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called “Irish Aid” societies like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums. In 1848, several New York Irish Aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one official New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world‘s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants. Each year, nearly 3 million people line the 1.5-mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades involving between 10,000 and 20,000 participants each. Up until the mid-19th century, most Irish immigrants in America were members of the Protestant middle class. When the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland in 1845, close to 1 million poor and uneducated Irish Catholics began pouring into America to escape starvation. Despised for their alien religious beliefs and unfamiliar accents by the American Protestant majority, the immigrants had trouble finding even menial jobs. When Irish Americans in the country’s cities took to the streets on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate their heritage, newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunk, violent monkeys. The American Irish soon began to realize, however, that their large and growing numbers endowed them with a political power that had yet to be exploited. They started to organize, and their voting block, known as the “green machine,” became an important swing vote for political hopefuls. Suddenly, annual St. Patrick’s Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for a slew of political candidates. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman attended New York City ‘s St. Patrick’s Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish Americans whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in the New World. As Irish immigrants spread out over the United States, other cities developed their own traditions. One of these is Chicago’s annual dyeing of the Chicago River green. The practice started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river–enough to keep it green for a week! Today, in order to minimize environmental damage, only 40 pounds of dye are used, and the river turns green for only several hours. Although Chicago historians claim their city’s idea for a river of green was original, some natives of Savannah, Georgia (whose St. Patrick’s Day parade, the oldest in the nation, dates back to 1813) believe the idea originated in their town. They point out that, in 1961, a hotel restaurant manager named Tom Woolley convinced city officials to dye Savannah’s river green. The experiment didn’t exactly work as planned, and the water only took on a slight greenish hue. Savannah never attempted to dye its river again, but Woolley maintains (though others refute the claim) that he personally suggested the idea to Chicago’s Mayor Richard J. Daley. Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia. In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use interest in St. Patrick’s Day to drive tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture to the rest of the world. Today, approximately 1 million people annually take part in Ireland ‘s St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows.




Blue Angels return to Cherry Point Air Show in 2016

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Article Taken From HAVELOCK NEWS
The Blue Angels will return to Cherry Point for Cherry Point Air Show in 2016







Havelock …Cherry Point has announced that the Blue Angels will return to headline the 2016 Cherry Point Air Show on April 29-30 and May 1 aboard the Marine Corps air station. 2016 MCAS Cherry Point Air Show

According to a release sent late Thursday, the show will have a number of new performers in addition to the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Team. More information will be published on the Cherry Point Air Show website at as it becomes available. “The Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point air show planning committee wants your help to create the theme for the 2016 MCAS Cherry Point Air Show.

This is a great opportunity to leave your mark in Cherry Point history, and to win some great prizes! The individual whose theme is selected by the Cherry Point commanding officer will receive an assortment of air show related prizes, to include a ride in one of the featured aircraft,” the release said. Submissions will be limited to one per person. The theme must be no more than six words and no artwork will be required. Deadline for submissions is Sep. 13, 2015.

Theme ideas must be submitted using the online form located at the air show’s website, or via email as described on the site. “Be creative! Marine Corps aviation continues to build on an illustrious history of more than 100 years of service, operating worldwide in support of Marine Air-Ground Task Forces.

Additionally, Cherry Point will celebrate its 75th Anniversary in 2016 – so theme submissions that incorporate that piece of historical significance are encouraged,” the release said.


Blue Angels Skyhawk TEE_FRESH_POST_800px-US_Navy_020504-N-4430H-501_Blue_Angels_-_fly-by_at_Fleet_Week TEE_FRESH_POST_800px-Blue_Angels_on_Delta_Formation    



















Past air show themes include “Inspiration to Innovation” in 2014, “Celebrate the Heritage” in 2012 and “Semper Fie Over the Carolina Sky” in 2010.





After the end of the World War II the importance, the publicity and predominantly – the rating of US Navy became lower in the eyes of ordinary people who were used to read about the numerous victories of the Navy pilots. Because of that the US Navy Secretary James Forestal and the chief of US Navy Operations Admiral Chester Nimitz make a decision to form the official US Navy aerobatic display team which will carry on the traditions of before-WWII aerobatic teams.

In the morning of April 24, 1946, admiral Chester Nimitz sended a directive to Vice-Admiral Frank Wagner, director of Naval Air Advanced Training Command (NAATC) in Pensacola, Florida, concerning the creation of an aerobatic team attached to the command. The team was formed in the airbase in Jacksonville, Florida where are situated the NAATC’s headquarters.

For the team’s commander was selected the World War II instructor and ace (with eight air victories) Lieutenant Commander Roy “Butch” Voris. To him has been given the task to select the rest of pilots and ground staff – everyone experienced since the WWII. The airplane of the team becomes Grumman F6F Hellcat – the main NAVY fighter during the World War II.

The pilots trained twice a day and after less than a month they were ready for their first flight show – on May 10, while the first public demonstration was on June 15, 1946, at Graig Field, Jacksonville. This first demonstration lasts just 12 minutes, but makes a great impression to the public. At that time only three of the planes participated at the demonstration, while the fourth held in reserve.

The pilots were: Lt. Cmdr. Roy “Butch” Voris as leader, Lt. Mel Cassidy as left wing, Lt. Maurice “Wick” Wickendoll as right wing and Lt. Ross Robinson as spare. Later to the team joined Lt. Alfred “Al” Taddeo as solo and Lt. Gale Stouse flying SNJ and spare. By that time the team consists of four airplanes Hellcat, one North American SNJ T-6 Texan (plane that at this time has been used for training and learning purposes) and one convoying cargo plane Beechcraft JRB (SNB).

The four Hellcats were painted in blue and yellow colors. At the bottom side of each wing with golden letters was written US NAVY, on the fuselage sides – NAVY and on the both sides of the tail – numbers from 1 to 4. The SNJ plane which impersonates the role of an enemy aircraft was painted in yellow with a large red circle from both sides (which shows its “Japanese” belonging) and a zero on its tail.

The convoying aircraft Beechcraft JRB was painted in standard US Navy colors. It was used very short time and was replaced with R4D-5 Skytrain which had more carrying capacity.

The first shows of the US NAVY aerobatic team were not as those at the present time. Except for the standard for this kind of show figures of aerobatics in formation they performed something very interesting – assault of the Japanese air fighter on the American one, but this becomes a part of the show only since the end of July 1946. The role of the Japanese fighter was performed by SNJ plane, assaulting the main formation. In some of the first shows was used the PB-4Y airplane (B-24’s modification with one vertical stabilizer) guarded by the main formation. The “Japanese” fighter attacked the main formation and after the series of figures reconstituting the real fight atmosphere it was “hit” and begins to release smoke for much more authenticity. After that the pilot who flies on the back seat in the SNJ releases the small parachute which imitates the pilot leaved the falling plane. The show lasted about 17 minutes.

The first team had 12 people ground staff, one commentator and one man who organized the show itself, as well as three representatives of Grumman. Since the team still had not received the official name, the officer from the headquarters of the Navy proposed the name “Navy Blue Lancers” but it has not been accepted by the team members. Lieutenant Maurice “Wick” Wickendoll (team’s right wing) suggested the name “Blue Angels” after he has seen in the New York magazine an advertisement for night club “Blue Angel”. The rest of the team accepted the name and it becomes official. The first demonstration under the Blue Angels name was Omaha show, July 19 – 21.

The Blue Angels performed their last show with the Hellcats in the presence of Grumman representatives in Bathpage, New York. On Aug 25, 1946, the team moved on the Grumman F8F Bearcat airplanes. The main planes were already five – the plane number 5 was a solo pilot. During the moving of the new planes from company airport of Grumman in Bathpage which has been performed by the team pilots, while landing for refueling in Norfolk almost all of the planes crashed. Fortunately no one from the pilots has been injured. This happened due to oversight of the Grumman. The Blue Angels airplanes were specially modified for their needs, i. e., and their armaments has been removed. Grumman has forgot to restore the balance of the modified planes and, when the fuel was came lower, the planes becomes lighter and the lack of balance brings up the planes’ instability. This leaded to the crash of most of the planes. Then the role of the “enemy” plane was performed by Bearcat which has been painted in the same colors as the SNJ plane and received the nickname “Beetle Bomb”.

The first tragedy for the Blue Angels comes on September 29, 1946. While performed the individual aerobatic figures with the Bearcat plane, Lieutenant Ross Robinson died. Doing the Cuban Eight maneuver, he dangerously approaches ground, accelerated too hard, which caused the tearing of the wing tips. The plane becomes unstable and hits the ground.

On September 29th, 1946, I was standing on top of a hanger at Jacksonville NAS to see the performance of the Blue Angels. I was 13 at the time. Lt Robinson’s Bearcat was exiting from a Cuban Eight when I first saw white contrails from the wing tips. Then a dark flash from a wing tip. The aircraft was unable to recover and hit the air strip in front of me and all the assembled onlookers. I felt the heat from the fireball as parts of the aircraft skittered down the runway”. – (Jackson Harper, Lt Col USAF Ret).

In 1947 the commander of the team was Lieutenant Commander Robert Clarke which introduces for the first time the well-known diamond formation, the looping and barrel roll in the same formation.

In 1949 the Blue Angels performed their first air demonstration with jet aircrafts Grumman F9F-2 Panther. The second solo pilot – number 6 – has been added to the team. On those planes the Blue Angels for the first time used blue and red smoke as a method to highlight the figures. The smoke was formed by the fuel released by the devices for forced fuel pumping situated on the ends of half-wings. The colorization was achieved by using the special colorize injected in flowing fuel. On July 20, 1950, the Panther airplanes fly for the last time on the east coast in Jacksonville, because of the order to bring the aircrafts on a war footing for the beginning of the Korean War.

The last airshow was on July 30, 1950, in Dallas. On August 7th-12th the Blue Angels used their planes to train at the airbase Moffett Field, California. After finished that first stage, they transferred their Panthers in the Alameda airbase where the rearranging of the aircrafts for battles has been finished. On November 7th the Blue Angels had been transferred to the aircraft-carrier Princeton for combat training. On December 1st they officially turn on war establishment as a core of the fight squadron “Satan’s Kittens” commanded by Lcdr. Johnny Magda who was a former commander of Blue Angels, too. The airplanes were painted in a standard US Navy colors. Lcdr. Johnny Magda was the only member of the Blue Angels who died during the Korean War. His plane was hit by the ground-air missile while doing the patrol flight.

On October 25, 1951, the Blue Angels had been formed again. Their commander becomes the first of the Blue Angels – Roy “Butch” Voris, who remains on command in 1952 when the team was moved to the new team’s home base at Corpus Christy, Texas. The aircrafts were F9F-5 – a faster Panther modification.

In 1952 the Blue Angels used two airplanes Vought F7U Cutlass painted in the team’s colors, but only for a very short time because they were too complicated for piloting and one of them loosed the cover of its undercarriage during the flight. After that the Cutlass does not flew again as a part of the team anymore. The Cutlass aircrafts were used as a solos for a six air displays. On July 7, 1952, #1 and #4 of the Blue Angels F9F-5 Panther aircrafts collided at low level during the demonstration at Corpus Christi, Texas. Lt. Cmdr. Roy “Butch” Voris who flew the leader’s plane #1 managed to land his badly damaged plane, while the other pilot Lt. Bud Wood who flew slot plane #4 ejected but did not leave the seat and died of injuries.

In the same year Lockheed TV-2 Shooting Star, also painted in the team’s colors, was given to the Blue Angels. It was used by the PR officer who by that time flew F8F Bearcat. At the tail of this plane was placed number 0. In the Corpus Christy airbase the planes remains till the winter of 1954.

In the beginning of 1954 the pilot of US Marine begins to fly with the Blue Angels. The same year the team received special colored flying suites. By that time the Blue Angels started to use Curtis R5C Commando as a cargo plane but find that it cannot cope with their needs. Soon Curtis R5C Commando was replaced with Douglas R4D-8 Super Skytrooper.

In the beginning of 1955 the Blue Angels were transferred to their present home – Sherman Field airbase, Pensacola, Florida – and begin to fly on Grumman F9F-8 Cougar, their first airplane with swept wing. The aircraft on which flew the PR officer was Cougar, but from its two-seat modification F9F-8T. The aircraft carried number 0 which was replaced later with number 7. In 1956 the Blue Angels for the first time visited foreign country Canada.

In 1957 the team jumped to Grumman F11F-1 Tiger airplanes. The first demonstration with Tiger plane was on Barin Field, Pensacola on March 23, 1957. Interesting was that the Blue Angels flew on two modifications of the Tiger. On the first one, which has a “short” nose, they flew the first three years and after a certain period of time they begin to use smoke generators on the end of exhaust pipe which released white smoke. After that they jump to the Tiger with a “long” nose. The reason for the difference between the two modifications was the different kind of radar used on the two machines. In the second modification the releases of fuel was used again to make a smoke trail. After that the team returned to the usage of smoke generators which was the present way to make a smoke trails in the Blue Angels demonstrations.

In 1959 a decision was accepted according to which the cargo plane received number 8. It was Douglas R5D Skymaster – the first cargo plane painted in the Blue Angels colors.

In 1961-1963 the Blue Angels performed for the first time formation landing of six planes in a Delta formation. In July 1963 the team performs its 1000 demonstration in California.

On March 15, 1964, Lt. George L. Neale the slot pilot #4, was killed while his F11F Tiger plane crashed during attempts to land at Apalachicola Municipal Airport. Lt. Neale together with all Blue Angels F11Fs were escorted the team’s cargo airplane Douglas R5D Skymaster returning from West Palm Beach, Florida to the Blue Angels home base at NAS Pensacola, Florida. He declared to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, for emergency landing permission when his Grumman F-11FA Tiger suffered engine problems over Apalachicola. Lt. George L. Neale spotted the local airport and attempted to land there, ejecting on final approach at 1115 hrs. as the fighter came down in about 250 yards short of the runway. Although he cleared the airframe at about 150–200 feet altitude, his chute did not have sufficient time to deploy and he was killed.

The cause of the crash was broken turbine blade which went out through the engine and through a fuel cell, then the engine stops and he lose a lot of fuel. Thus was the reason of little fire at the crash site. Also there was a strong headwind at the airport. In the summer of 1965 the Blue Angels performed their first European tour, included France, Great Britain, Finland, Denmark, Holland and Iceland.

On Sept 2, 1966 during demonstration at International Air Exhibition, Toronto, Canada, Blue Angel #5 Lt. Cmdr. Richard “Dick” Oliver flying F11F Tiger, crashed and died. The crash occurred while the two solos performed “knife edge” pass over Lake Ontario, when two planes flew directly at each other, passed, and then performed a complete roll. Oliver performed the roll too low and when he exited the maneuver, the wingtip touched the water; he went out of control and smashed into a breakwater on the edge of Toronto Island, just south of Toronto. Then a big column of black smoke rose from the wreckage raised to the sky. Lieutenant Commander Dick Oliver, 31 years old, of Fort Mills, South Carolina, was at the end of his tour with Blue Angels.

A year earlier Lt. Cmdr. Richard “Dick” Oliver crashed during practice flight executing dirty roll on take-off, but then he stayed alive with minor injures. He was awarded with golden medal from the American Legion, when he, just 14 years old, rescued a river drowning girl.

February 1, 1967, Lt Frank Gallagher who flew #6 solo at NAS El Centro, was killed when his F11FA Tiger stalled during a practice Half Cuban 8 maneuver and spun into the ground.

Two week later on Feb 18, another fatal crash killed Right Wing #2 Capt. Ronald “Ron” Folk Thompson. The crash occurred after mid-air collision with other Blue Angels airplane during practicing formation loop at El Centro.

The fatal accidents in 1966 in Toronto, and the two crashes during the training flights in 1967 put an end of usage of the Tigers in the Blue Angels. In the middle of 1960s the Blue Angels begin to use Lockheed C121 Constellation for a cargo plane.

On January 14, 1968 the opposing solo #6 Lt. Bill Worley was killed when his fighter F11F Tiger crashed during a practice double immelman at NAF El Centro. In the end of 1968 the team started the exploration of its first two-engine aircraft McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II, and begins to use it in the aerobatic shows in 1969. This puts an end of using the Grumman airplanes. An F-4H was added to the team as a plane for the PR officer. In the season 1969 for the first time a woman served at the team as an administrative officer.

On Aug 6, 1969, during the Blue Angels practice, Marine Capt. Vince D. Donile flying Right Wing #3 F-4J Phantom, exceeded the speed of sound, while he try to compensate the lag during the four-plane cross following “Bomb Burst” maneuver, causing a sonic boom that shattered most of the glass in downtown Kelowna B.C., Canada. Several people were struck by flying glass and needed hospital treatment. This accident is well remembered till the present days at Kelowna city. But Capt. Vincent Donile mishaps doesn’t ends with this.

On Sept 19, 1969, he again strikes bad luck while ejected from his plane over San Francisco Bay during airshow. Less then two months on Nov 6, Capt. Donile ejected again, but this time during airshow at El Paso, Texas. Capt. Vince Donile survived both ejections without any injures. In 1970 at the team arrived the new cargo plane KC-130F Hercules, who soon after that received the nickname “The Fat Albert” – the popular character from Bill Cosby’s TV-show at that time. In October-November, 1971, the Blue Angels performed their first tour in Asia. They visited Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines and Guam.

On January 8, 1972 – Lt. Larry Watters was killed when his F-4J Phantom struck the ground while practicing at NAF El Centro. During the Vietnam War the Blue Angels demonstration team was not disbanded, but two team ex-members died in the war.

One of them was the former team commander – Commodore Harley Hall, who was brought down on January 27, 1973, during the flight with F-4J from aircraft-carrier Enterprise above the North Vietnam. Harley Hall and the other member of the plane’s crew ejected successfully but their fate still remains unknown. Interesting was the fact that according to Commodore Hall’s wife he had been captured by the Vietnamese authorities and shown as a spoil, i. e. as a Big Blue Angel, during the war parade in Hanoi. Vietnamese authorities knew him very well because he led the team during its Asian tour two years ago. Captain Hall was now officially known as KIA (Killed In Action).

Another ex-member of the Blue Angels who died in the war was Lieutenant Clarence Tolbert, who was brought down on November 6, 1972, above the Vietnamese coast. He flew on the A-7B Corsair from the Midway aircraft-carrier. Tolbert ejected successfully but his parachute did not open and he died.

On March 8, 1973 Capt. John Fogg #3, Lt. Marlin Wiita #2 and LCDR Don Bentley #1 collided in mid-air during practice over the Superstition Mountains in California. All three pilots landed successfully. The cause of the incident was the wrong maneuver from Flight Leader LCDR Don Bentley. After this he was replaced by the ex-Lead Solo #5 LT Skip Umstead from 1972 airshow season. In April 1973, Commander Umstead was called back to the Blues to perform the duties of the Officer-in-Charge and Flight Leader. For his misfortune this returning takes his life four months later.

On 8 July, 1973 Lt. Steve D. Lambert #5, ejected uninjured at very low altitude at Lake Charles, LA. Ejection sequence happened after the plane bounced off the runway.

On July 26, 1973 two pilots and a crew chief were killed in a mid-air collision between 2 Phantoms over Lakehurst, NJ during a pre-arrival air show. Team Leader #1 LCDR Skip Umstead, Slot #4 Capt. Mike Murphy and ground crew member ADJ1 Ron Thomas, who was riding in the back seat of a jet, were killed. A second ground crew member ADJ.1C Gerald Harvey ejected safely from the Leader’s plane.

The incident occurred in about 16’30 local time. The rest of the season was canceled after this fatal crash. These fatal accidents in 1972 and 1973 and the petrol crisis, push the US NAVY precision flying team to abandon their present airplane.

After these crashes some people insist that the team must be disbanded. After this series of accidents and maintenance problems with their McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantoms in the 1973 air show season, the Blue Angels canceled the rest of the season and stood down for an overview of the program by the Secretary of the Navy, John Warner (who would later serve six terms in the US Senate representing the state of Virginia). Warner appointed a panel of six senior flag officers to review the Blue Angels program and they unanimously recommended its continuation as “prime recruiting asset” and the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, wanted a reorganization of the Blue Angels and instituted a review for an aircraft type to replace the F-4s.

The former Blue Angels team leader Captain Ken Wallace, who at the time was in charge of tactical air planning in the CNO’s office, was appointed to make recommendations on a new aircraft type for the US NAVY jet demonstration team.

He preferred the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, which was the Navy’s prime fighter aircraft, but the cost of the keeping the aircraft ready for flight demonstrations and maintaining the costly AWG-9 radar and Phoenix missile weapons system flight ready were daunting. At that time the flight control system was also undergoing refinement as well as the fighter was being introduced into service.

The next choice in Wallace’s evaluation was the Vought A-7 Corsair II, then the Navy’s newest front-line attack aircraft, but they couldn’t be spared as they were needed in Southeast Asia even as US involvement in Vietnam was winding down as units replaced older Corsairs and combat losses.

This finally led to the selection of the McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, specifically the A-4F variant. Approximately 150 A-4Fs were built to stand-in for the A-7 Corsair II in some of the Navy’s attack squadrons as there were operational problems in getting the A-7 ready several years earlier. Now that the A-7 was a mature system, the A-4F was in plentiful supply and particularly appealing to the Blue Angels were the 100 F-models that were re-engined with a more powerful version of the J52 engine that boasted 11,200 lbs of thrust compared to 9,300 lbs of the older version of the J52 that most Skyhawks used – this gave the “Super Fox” as the re-engined A-4Fs were called, a near 1:1 thrust to weight ratio, something the Blues never had in a display aircraft.

The Blue Angels new A-4F mounts had several modifications for air show display:

• Wing slats were locked into place to prevent asymmetrical slat deployment which would have been disastrous in close formation.

• Smoke oil tanks added.

• Modification of internal fuel plumbing to allow an additional 30 seconds of inverted flight time.

• Horizontal stabilizer altered to allow 3 degrees more of down trim.

• Modulated stick forces in the pitch axis- one setting for displays and the other for cross-country flying.

• Stowable crew ladder in what was the left hand gun bay.

• Removal of the dorsal avionics pod and some of the weapons delivery avionics.

• A drag chute for use at smaller airports.

The final change was the raise the status of the Blue Angels to that of a full Navy squadron, giving the team leader the same powers and position as a squadron commander. This now meant that the flight surgeon, supply and administrative officers and the public affairs and maintenance teams were no longer loaned to the team.

In 1974 the Blue Angels received the status of official flight demonstration squadron of US NAVY and started to fly on McDonnell Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II. The plane #7 was TA-4 Skyhawk. On Feb 22, 1977, Lt. Nile Kraft died in low level practice flight at NAF El Centro, CA. On October 8, 1977, the Blue Angels performed their flight show number 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia. On November 7, 1978, The Opposing Solo, Blue Angel #6 Lt. Michael R. “Mike” Curtin died, when his Skyhawks struck the ground after high speed low level roll during arrival maneuvers at NAS Miramar. Blue Angels arrived at Miramar for refueling on the road to San Diego Airshow. On May 31, 1980, Lead Solo #5 Lt. Jim Ross ejected safely from his Skyhawk after it suffered a fuel line fire during a show at NS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. The plane landed in a swamp near the air base.

On Feb 22, 1982, Lead Solo #5 Lt. Cmdr Stu Powrie died, when his Skyhawk slammed into the desert during practice flight at El Centro. The crash occurred at the end of “dirty loop” maneuver.

On July 13, 1985, both solos collided in mid-air at Niagara Falls Air Show, killing Opposing Solo Lt. Cmdr. Mike Gershon. The Lead Solo Lt. Andy Caputi ejected safely. The crash occurred, when both planes just completed a low opposing pass and rolled inverted and then pulled up for a “Half Cuban Eight” maneuver. The wing and the fuselage of Lt. Gershon’s A-4 Skyhawk struck the tail of the Caputi’s airplane at the top of the maneuver.

On November 8, 1986, the Blue Angels celebrate their 40th anniversary. During the ceremony goes the presentation of the new squadron’s airplane – McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. To the team are added two more two-seated F/A-18B with numbers 7 and 8. In this year for a first time Afro-American pilot Donnie Cochran serves at the squadron, Later he became the leader of the Blue Angels.

On September 7, 1990, the Blue Angels perform their flight show number 3000. In 1992 the Blue Angels visited the ex-enemy number one – Russia, when they met Russian aerobatic teams – Russian Knights, Swifts and Celestial Hussars.

On Sept 6, 1999, #3 Lt. Cmdr. David Silkey involved in bird strike during take-off from Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. Silkey dumped fuel over Lake Erie and returning safely to the airport. On Thursday, October 28, 1999, an accident takes the lives of two members of the Blue Angels. During the training flight while approached the ground for landing F/A-18B number 7 crashed in the yard of a farm near Moody airbase, California, when the team will do the show during the weekend.

One of the pilots was #3 LCDR Kieron O’Connor, a member of the team since one year and the other one – since one month. Show was postponed because of the deaths of the pilots.

In the same year the left wing pilot #3 from US Marine quits the squadron because of his relationship with the team’s female – PR-officer. He was replaced by the last year’s number 4, who was called up from the combat unit where he served until the end of present show season. Thereby the Blue Angels finished the season without a pilot from US Marine.

On Apr 21 2007, #6 solo pilot Lt. Cmdr. Kevin J. Davis died during an airshow at Beaufort. The crash happened as the team was performing its final maneuver of the show. The team’s six pilots were joining from behind the crowd of thousands to form a delta formation, but Davis jet did not join.

Moments later, his jet crashed just outside Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, hitting homes in a neighborhood about 35 miles northwest of Hilton Head Island. The cause of the crash is pilot mistake. Davis pushes the stick too hard and goes to high G. Blue Angels don’t carry G-suits and he loses vision.

On the videos is visible that he gives more angle of roll, and when he push the pitch, plane goes right to the ground. (This is our opinion, but looks like official report gives the same result). Eight people on the ground were injured, and some homes were damaged. His parents were in the crowd. Davis, a decorated pilot who joined the Blue Angels in 2005, had previously served as an announcer for the airshows. He also handled celebrity flights, and flew with stars such as Kelly Clarkson, actor James Franco and University of Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops.

At the end of 2009 the Blue Angels was pushed to abandon their C-130T “Fat Albert” short take-off range performance using solid rocket busters named JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off). The Fat Albert used eight solid rocket busters from Vietnam War era and are very expensive for use, so the NAVY Head Quarter  decides to stops Fat Albert’s JATO displays.

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