Rep. Estes Introduces Aviation Manufacturing Legislation

WASHINGTON – Today Congressman Ron Estes (R-Kansas) introduced bipartisan legislation critical to south central Kansas' aviation manufacturing sector – the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Act. He was joined by Congressman Rick Larsen (D-Washington). The bill allows aviation manufacturers to designate 25% of their workforce at risk of furlough due to COVID-19 to be eligible for up to 50% of their total compensation covered by the Department of the Treasury. The employer will cover the remaining 50%.
"Kansans have built general aviation and commercial airplanes for a century, helping us become the Air Capital of the World. However, recent groundings and the negative effects of COVID-19 have slowed production rates to record lows, putting thousands of Kansans out of work and jeopardizing our local companies' stability," said Rep. Estes. "The Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Act will help keep workers on the payroll and connected with their aviation jobs, which solves the short-term unemployment issue and keeps our skilled workforce here in the Sunflower State for the long term. As aviation manufacturing ramps back up, these employees will benefit from maintaining a connection with their employer and be able to rejoin the workforce easily."
"In the Pacific Northwest, the highly skilled aviation manufacturing and maintenance workforce drives the economy and helps the U.S. remain competitive abroad," said Rep. Larsen, Chair of the House Aviation Subcommittee. "This bipartisan bill provides critical relief to help sustain the aerospace supply chain until the nation gets to the other side of the pandemic. I am committed to protecting these jobs and supporting the dedicated women and men who keep the supply chain moving during such challenging times."
"The aviation manufacturing and maintenance industry continues to face stiff headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic. We applaud and are deeply grateful to Representatives Estes and Larsen for their work to support the industry’s highly skilled workforce. Given that general and commercial aviation are significant contributors to the U.S. economy, it is essential that both industry and government partner together to protect aviation manufacturing and maintenance jobs in this vital sector," said Pete Bunce, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President and CEO.
"This crisis continues to put our skilled aerospace and defense workforce at risk, forcing significant layoffs and furloughs in companies large and small," said AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning. "Representatives Estes' and Larsen's bipartisan bill could help save these jobs by providing temporary and targeted support to keep these employees on the payroll."
The Secretary of the Treasury will oversee the program operations along with oversight by the Department of Transportation. The bill also includes several safeguards, including restrictions on employers circumventing collective bargaining agreements, moving jobs assisted by the program out of the United States, using the program for stock buybacks or paying out dividends, or being covered under the "at risk" employee definition. The program goes through April 2022, given the unknown nature of the pandemic's impact on aviation manufacturing companies. Despite loan options within the CARES Act, many aviation companies did not take advantage of them because of certain restrictions.

Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.

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