6 months ago

Huntsville’s Dynetics signs Trump’s ‘Pledge to America’s Workers,’ will hire 700 new employees over five years

HUNTSVILLE — U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on Thursday went on a flurry of tours highlighting north Alabama’s high-tech boom, saying the area’s success would not be possible without higher education and industry stakeholders working together.

After stops at Calhoun Community College’s Decatur campus and Huntsville’s ADTRAN, Acosta participated in a roundtable discussion about apprenticeships and manufacturing with senior leaders from Dynetics.

He then took a tour of the manufacturing division at Dynetics Technical Solutions, with the Trump cabinet official leaving more than impressed.

At a press conference afterward, he touched on getting rid of the “stigma” of hands-on jobs that require technical training rather than a four-year degree, something that Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame has made a personal mission.

Acosta emphasized that, backed by his tour just minutes earlier, modern manufacturing jobs are anything but “dirty.” He marveled at the state-of-the-art, high-tech facilities at Dynetics, which produces advanced technologies and products in industries that include defense and aerospace.

“What they are producing is precise,” Acosta explained. “And they’re not just running machines, they’re programming machines. We need to realize that what we think of as manufacturing is not what manufacturing is today.”

A big reason why Dynetics has been able to become an international industry leader is their own workforce development efforts.

Dynetics CEO David King outlined that the company’s “rich history of science and innovation” is driven by its employees.

Since being founded in Huntsville in 1974, Dynetics has grown to employ over 2,000 people across ten different states.

“The words manufacturing and Dynetics are becoming more synonymous with each day,” King said. “We provide solutions to address our nation’s most challenging advanced missions.”

In the precision machining and fabrication center that Acosta toured, King advised that Dynetics employs “more than 130 highly skilled personnel.”

Additionally, in their newly opened Gilbert Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Huntsville, Dynetics employs another 200 employees, all also of high skill and training — a core point of emphasis at the company.

Dynetics has achieved their level of success by offering their employees more and more ways to achieve a lofty degree of education, skill and training.

For example, they are currently conducting a summer internship program featuring 120 interns from 30 different colleges and universities. These interns get unique hands-on experience, often coming back to work at the company upon graduation with a head start.

“We’ve added more than 600 employees to Dynetics in the last three years,” King outlined. “And we take training and education very seriously. We’ve had over 500 employees be a part of ‘Dynetics University,’ which is an internal education movement that we have been doing for more than 30 years, where folks from Dynetics teach other folks here at Dynetics.”

“Last year, more than 2,000 employees participated in some other type of training, as well,” he continued. “This is tremendous for our company.”

While Dynetics is on the cutting edge of technology, education and training, the company wants to do even more. Which is why, on Thursday, King signed the Trump administration’s “Pledge to America’s Workers,” which is a commitment to expand programs that educate, train and re-skill our nation’s workers from high-school age to near-retirement.

Dynetics, King said, is pledging to create “enhanced career opportunities for 700 individuals over the next five years” alone.

“Dynetics is definitely growing,” he said, before affirming that the company’s pledge is to hire “700 new employees,” many of whom would be in Alabama.

Speaking after King, Acosta thanked Dynetics for signing the important pledge.

“As I was walking around Dynetics today, I started talking to several employees. And so many individuals started out coming from tech schools, and then they had an opportunity to learn. And to progress along the career track, because Dynetics did not just give them a job. They gave them learning opportunities,” the labor secretary lauded.

“I met a young man who started from a tech school who’s now a manager of an entire department,” Acosta said. “I met another individual who’s coding, and again, he started from a tech school. And he is now running incredibly advanced machinery.”

He then broke down exactly what Dynetics’ story proves and what others can learn from their model of success.

“So the message is this: there are so many career paths available,” Acosta explained. “College for some. Apprenticeships for others.”

He hailed “employers that recognize talent and empower individuals by providing them educational and skill opportunities.”

‘Cooperation’ between industry, education key to north Alabama’s continued growth

Acosta’s visit came at a time when 7.4 million jobs are available across America. In Alabama, just like the rest of the nation, the biggest problem in this high-performing economy is that employers cannot find enough qualified workers to fill available positions and help grow their companies.

To address this, the Trump and Ivey administrations are both being aggressive in their workforce development efforts.

On the federal level, Acosta said that grants are being handed out to state community college systems to bolster local programs.

For example, the U.S. Department of Labor in recent days announced that the Alabama Community College System was being awarded $12 million to expand apprenticeships.

However, education and industry also need to work hand-in-hand, Acosta stressed to Yellowhammer News on Thursday.

“Northern Alabama’s manufacturing base is growing rapidly — faster than Alabama and faster than the nation’s manufacturing is,” he said. “Every year about 2,300 individuals are hired into advanced manufacturing in Alabama. And those career tracks pay great… for that $12 million investment, which is being matched by industry in the private sector to the tune of more than $4 million, the community college system has pledged to create an additional 5,000 apprenticeship opportunities in Alabama. So, I thank Dynetics for what its doing, I thank the community college system for what it’s doing, and, most importantly, we need to keep this up.”

As the economy continues to grow, so too will the need for more skilled workers.

“What we have seen that is most successful is when companies and educational partners come together,” Acosta advised. “And we’ve seen this in north Alabama in the apprenticeship programs. We’re seeing this at Dynetics and their commitment to educate their workforce. Education needs to work with business so that it focuses on the skills that are being demanded by the workforce. It has to be a partnership.”

Unfortunately, the American education system has not necessarily changed with the times across the nation to accommodate this need.

Alabama, under Governor Kay Ivey’s administration, has been trying to change this in pre-k — 12. Additionally, industry stakeholders such as AlabamaWorks continue to move the state’s workforce development efforts forward at impressive rates. And, luckily for the Yellowhammer State, the state’s four-year higher education institutions and community college system have been leaders in working alongside industry instead of telling industry what it should be doing. The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is a prime example of this in north Alabama.

“So much of business has changed, so much of the way we interact with the world has changed with [increased technology],” Acosta remarked. “But something that hasn’t really changed is education. We still view education as a system where we learn and then we stop learning and we start working. And that doesn’t work. It needs to be a continuous burning and learning process. Where we continue learning on the job, continue acquiring skills to move up that career ladder and to learn the new technologies that are being used in places like Dynetics.”

Asked to pick one word to summarize what he witnessed on his north Alabama visit, Acosta immediately responded, “Cooperation.”

“Because the Huntsville area is growing so quickly, businesses have to… partner with the community college and educational system. And if they were not, the growth would not be happening,” he concluded. “Companies choose a city that has an educated, ready-and-able workforce. And the cooperation I have seen between the educational systems and their business partners here is spectacular.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

44 mins ago

Byrne introduces bill allowing cartels to be treated as terrorist organizations under federal law

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) is leading the charge in the U.S. House of Representatives to be able to officially treat international drug cartels as terrorist organizations under federal law, something that President Donald Trump has recently expressed as a priority of his.

Byrne announced on Friday that he, along with Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), has introduced the Significant Transnational Criminal Organization Designation Act.

This legislation would create a new federal designation, “Significant Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs),” which has more stringent sanctions than the existing transnational criminal organization designation. The penalties for Significant TCOs would mirror many of the penalties for entities currently designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), including sanctions on organization members and their families, travel restrictions and increased penalties for American citizens who grant them material assistance.

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In a statement, Byrne said, “We should not have to tolerate transnational criminal organizations exporting drugs and violence into our country.”

“This bill will enhance our ability to come after these groups and keep our communities and citizens safe at home and abroad. Congress should rally behind this effort and show these groups that there are severe consequences for their actions,” he advised.

This comes after nine dual U.S.-Mexico citizens were viciously slain by cartel members in northern Mexico on November 4.

Sanctions the federal government would be able to impose on Significant TCOs under Byrne’s legislation include:

  • Barring organization members and their immediate families from admission into the United States
  • Freezing assets
  • Seeking civil and criminal penalties against individuals providing material assistance or resources to the organization.

The bill also would require the president to submit a report to Congress detailing the government’s findings from the November 4 attack, including whether the cartel responsible should be designated as a Significant TCO.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has introduced the Senate version of Byrne’s bill.

Alabama has also had its problems with cartel-related violence and crime.

Attorney General Steve Marshall (R-AL) has advised that the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for “almost all” drugs imported into the Yellowhammer State. That cartel is headquartered in Culiacán, Mexico.

Just two weeks ago, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office took down two suspected Mexican cartel members in a major firearms and drug bust in the Birmingham metropolitan area.

Then, of course, there are the more shocking examples from the recent past, such as when cartel members in Alabama stabbed a grandmother to death and then beheaded her 13-year-old Huntsville granddaughter.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Ivey orders flags to half-staff honoring slain Navy ensign

Governor Kay Ivey announced Friday that she is ordering all flags on government grounds to be flown at half staff on Sunday, December 22 to honor the life of Navy Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson.

Watson, an Enterprise native who spent many of his formative years in Blount County, was killed in the shooting at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL, on December 6.

“Let us remember the life and service of Ensign Watson, who died as a hero trying to protect his fellow service members. We offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to his family, friends and community,” the governor said in her directive.

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According to reports relayed to the media by his family, the 23-year-old Watson saved many lives with his actions on the day of the shooting. His heroic actions drew praise from many of Alabama’s political leaders.

“After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable,” Adam Watson, the victim’s brother, told the Pensacola News Journal (PNJ).

Watson’s father, Benjamin, said of his son, “His mission was to confront evil, to bring the fight to them, wherever it took him. He was willing to risk his life for his country. We never thought he would die in Florida.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

You’re invited!

The biggest birthday party in Alabama’s history is taking place on December 14, and you are invited! Join us in Montgomery for the grand finale celebration of our state’s 200th birthday.

Watch the parade, listen to concerts and performances, visit open houses and much more.

This is sure to be a day you don’t want to miss. The event is free to the public and lasts all day starting with an elaborate parade at 10:00 a.m. The parade will travel from Court Square Fountain in downtown Montgomery up Dexter Avenue to the State Capitol. There will be marching bands, city floats and unique displays of Alabama history on wheels, such as the USS Alabama and U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

The parade is a great opportunity for families to enjoy the celebration together – and it’s only the beginning of a packed day. Following the parade, Governor Kay Ivey will dedicate Bicentennial Park. The afternoon will offer performances, exhibitions and open houses throughout downtown Montgomery. The day will conclude with a concert featuring popular musicians from Alabama and the history of Alabama presented in a never-before-seen way.

Visit Alabama 200 Finale for a complete rundown of the day’s events.

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4 hours ago

Roby votes ‘no’ on impeaching Trump, says Democrats setting ‘dangerous precedent’

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) on Friday voted “no” on both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump during a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee.

Both articles were reported favorably from the committee, each on a party line vote of 23-17; all Democrats present voted to support impeachment, all Republicans voted against.

The two articles are expected to advance to the full House floor for a vote as one package. That vote is expected next week.

Before Friday’s vote, the Judiciary Committee held a markup on the articles the day before, and Roby made extensive comments about what she deems a “woefully incomplete” and “flawed” process conducted by House Democrats.

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“The articles of impeachment before us in this Committee do not meet the necessary requirements nor have they followed an exhaustive pursuit to even find all of the facts of the case. Therefore, the bar to impeach a sitting president of the United States has not been met,” said Roby, who is retiring from Congress after this term.

She outlined, “Whether you identify as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, whether you agree or disagree with a president’s policies, whether you like or even dislike a president, the American people should feel cheated by what has taken place here.”

“The American people deserve a process that puts politics aside. The American people deserve a process that is led by our promise to protect and defend the Constitution. The American people simply deserve better,” Roby emphasized.

The full text of Roby’s speech as follows:

I have made clear how woefully incomplete this process has been, how the Minority’s right to a hearing has been completely disregarded, how no fact witnesses were called before us, and how staff questioning staff to get the truth was bizarre.

No matter what any Member on this side says here tonight, the Majority will unanimously vote to send these articles of impeachment to the House Floor. However, I have a duty to continue to point out how flawed this process has been. All Members of Congress are required to take an oath of office at the beginning of every Congress. By taking this oath, we swear above all else, to defend the Constitution of the United States.

I have the distinct honor to represent the hardworking people of Southeast Alabama. They have placed their trust in me to represent their values and be their voice here in Congress. This revered and longstanding oath serves as a guiding principle for every decision I make as a Member of Congress.

For the record, let me be clear:

I believe in the rule of law.

I believe that no person is above the law.

I believe process is vital to this very institution.

I have stated time and time again before this Committee: process matters. Without abiding by a framework that adheres to our Constitution, we are charting a course that does not follow our country’s founding principles.

Whether you identify as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, whether you agree or disagree with a president’s policies, whether you like or even dislike a president, the American people should feel cheated by what has taken place here.

We sit here tonight without all the facts of the case because the Majority decided to conduct an incomplete and inadequate pursuit of the truth. Many questions remain.

With the consequential decision of impeaching a president, it is our right and duty to the citizens of this country to properly use the powers of congressional oversight, to adjudicate impasses through the courts, and arrive at actual undisputed facts of a case that all Americans, regardless of ideology, can agree are truthful and honest.

In the impeachment proceedings of President Nixon, the underlying facts of the case were undisputed. In the impeachment proceedings of President Clinton, the underlying facts of the case were undisputed. Here before us tonight, that is not the case.

The articles of impeachment before us in this Committee do not meet the necessary requirements nor have they followed an exhaustive pursuit to even find all of the facts of the case. Therefore, the bar to impeach a sitting president of the United States has not been met.

For the sake of our country and for the future trajectory of this body, I implore my colleagues to take a hard look at the course of this investigation. It has severely discounted the tenets of our democratic system.

Tomorrow, we write history: a history that cannot be undone. A dangerous precedent will be set for future Majorities of this body.

The American people deserve a process that puts politics aside. The American people deserve a process that is led by our promise to protect and defend the Constitution. The American people simply deserve better.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

If character decides the Heisman Trophy, Jalen Hurts wins in a landslide

Nine yards.

That’s the amount of offense LSU quarterback Joe Burrow generated per game more than Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts this season.

That’s it.

Picking up a mere 27 extra feet each game, Burrow is now the prohibitive favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

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Both quarterbacks had great years. In fact, their seasons largely mirrored each other. Both experienced breakout campaigns after previously respectable — but not necessarily exceptional — seasons. Both accounted for 51 touchdowns in 2019. Hurts and Burrow have each carried their teams into the college football playoff where they face off on December 28.

Hurts leads the nation with 11.76 yards per pass attempt. He is second in the nation in passing efficiency, with a 201.5 rating. The quarterback who sits third in passing efficiency? Joe Burrow.

Hurts may very well lead the nation in another category. It is not as easy to measure as most other statistical categories in the game, but one which should put him over the top for college football’s most prestigious award.

That category is character.

And it matters for the award. The stated mission of the Heisman Trophy is to recognize “the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”

You may not be able to attach a number to Hurts’ character and integrity, but it has been on display at every point during his college football career.

Who better to testify to the type of person Hurts is than Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Saban believes no player in the country has exhibited the level of integrity Hurts has shown.

“There’s never been a guy that anywhere in college football that did things more correctly and set a better example as a leader than Jalen Hurts did while he was here by staying here after he was replaced as a starter,” Saban observed.

Rather than dwell on being replaced in the middle of a national championship game, Hurts grew from it.

“That day made me who I am,” he told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Hurts has led his new team with the same standard of excellence to which he held himself throughout his time in Tuscaloosa. The nation got a sneak peek at his legendary work ethic when he hit the weight room after a blowout win against Texas Tech in September. And he showed his uncommon focus when he slid into his own team’s Instagram account to comment “Rat Poison” on a post touting the Sooners’ impressive offensive stats.

Hurts befriended a young man who had been twice assaulted by bullies in videos that went viral across the country. In a typical show of humility, Hurts remarked that meeting the young man “was an inspiration to me.”

He added, “It meant the world to me honestly to meet him.”

None of this comes as a surprise to fans of the Crimson Tide.

In an era when players are more apt to begin working on their brand than working in their communities, Hurts shared his time with others. He had a special relationship with Alabama superfan Walt Gary. The two of them enjoyed snapping selfies together, with Hurts adopting a tradition of capturing Walt’s weekly game predictions on video.

These are a few of countless examples of the kind of character and integrity Hurts will carry with him to the Heisman ceremony in New York City on Saturday.

Hurts has nothing left to prove on the field. And his character has made him a winner off the field whether they call his name or not.

If character and integrity are the deciding factors for the award, expect Jalen Hurts to win in a landslide.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia