In the next couple of weeks, national leaders from the American Federation of Government Employees will descend upon Middle Georgia to determine the fate of the current local union leadership team. It would be easy to simply consider this internal union business. The reality is the results do matter to every Middle Georgian because as Robins goes, so goes our economy.

The current collaborative environment between base leaders and union management has led to improved performance on base and to senior Air Force leaders talking about bringing additional workload to Robins. This is exactly what our base and our community need if Robins is to remain the healthy and viable economic engine of Middle Georgia.

However, a return to the confrontational approach between union and base leaders that was prevalent three years ago will not bode well for Robins or the community. In today’s highly competitive environment, senior DoD leaders are looking for any differentiators they can find when considering workload assignments or when BRAC discussions begin.

The perception that Robins is once again experiencing “labor issues,” as was the case three years ago, will seriously jeopardize the base’s growth and future. So what can be done?

First, local union members can be actively engaged in their union business. They can ensure that the hearing process being driven by the national office is open and transparent. They can also ensure that the union leadership team they elect is committed to taking care of both the workforce and the mission at Robins.

Second, local community leaders can actively engage with base leaders to ensure they remain committed to working with the union for the betterment of both the workforce and Robins. Finally, our state and federally elected officials can communicate to the national union leadership that union business is also the community’s business because of its impact on Robins.

For 75 years, Robins AFB has been a linchpin of our national defense and the engine of Middle Georgia’s economy. We’ve succeeded because of the partnerships on the base and those between the base and community. Now is not the time to change a winning formula.