Since the start of the pandemic, more than 100,000 American aerospace jobs have been lost; without congressional action, over 200,000 total jobs are at risk
Arlington, Va. — Today, a coalition representing aviation manufacturers, a labor union, maintenance and repair organizations, and the defense industrial base is coming together to praise the inclusion of a payroll support fund to protect aviation manufacturing jobs in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s portion of the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Omnibus Reconciliation Act. The provision would provide a federal cost-share program to retain aerospace workers who are at risk of being furloughed and recall workers who were furloughed due to the drastic reduction in air travel since the COVID-19 pandemic began. As many as 5,550 businesses and 130,000 workers could benefit from this assistance.
For months, this coalition – comprised of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), and the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) – has called attention to the urgent need to assist this critical workforce. In November, AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning and IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. co-authored an op-ed urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to keep employees on the payroll.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the airline industry and, in turn, the highly skilled aviation manufacturing workforce that supports it,” said AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning. “This payroll support program will make it possible for manufacturers to retain or rehire thousands of hard-working Americans. By protecting this vital workforce, we can help ensure the recovery and continued success of an industry that is critical to our nation’s economy and security.”
“Tens of thousands of American aviation maintenance jobs are at risk as the pandemic-related economic disruptions continue,” said ARSA Executive Vice President Christian Klein. “We’re extremely grateful that Reps. Larsen, Estes and others are working to protect workers, not just in aviation-heavy states like Washington and Kansas, but throughout the country. Their legislation will help ensure that when this crisis passes aviation maintainers and manufacturers still have the highly skilled workers they need to keep America flying and to support the nation’s economic recovery.”
“The aviation manufacturing and maintenance industry is an integral part of the U.S. economy and transportation system. Our industry and its highly skilled workforce continue to face pandemic-related challenges and obstacles. We commend the leadership shown by Senators Cantwell and Moran and Representatives Larsen and Estes to support the retention and rehiring of the aviation manufacturers and maintenance providers workforce. It is essential that both industry and government partner together to protect this vital job sector,” said Pete Bunce, GAMA President and CEO.
“Machinists Union members are the most skilled and dedicated aerospace and defense workers in the world,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “We must do everything we can to preserve such a critical workforce through this crisis and be ready for growth when it passes. As the largest aerospace and defense union in North America, we applaud Reps. Larsen and Estes, Sens. Cantwell and Moran, and others who are championing this bipartisan, worker-first and desperately needed legislation.”
“NDIA welcomes this inclusion to the aviation manufacturing provision for a simple reason: We must preserve the skilled workforce of this industry. These workers, the most important asset our defense industrial base has, do not come by their skills and security clearances overnight; having to replace them would be a generational endeavor and cede an advantage to our nation’s competitors,” said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, NDIA President and CEO.
The provision would establish a payroll support program within the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide grants to eligible manufacturers and their suppliers to maintain vital workforces during the pandemic. The temporary program would require cost-sharing of 50 percent by employers, who must identify an eligible employee group comprising not more than 25 percent of their U.S. workforce engaged in aviation manufacturing or maintenance, repair, and overhaul activities. The funds provided must be used to retain current employees or to recall employees who were previously laid off.