Rep. Estes Reintroduces Aviation Manufacturing Legislation

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kansas) reintroduced bipartisan legislation critical to south central Kansas' aviation manufacturing sector – the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Act. He was joined by Rep. 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 50% of their total compensation covered by the Department of Transportation. 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, 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. This common sense, bipartisan legislation has the backing of the unions and workers and is a way for the Biden administration to rebuild our economy." 

"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 is an integral part of the U.S. economy and transportation system. The pandemic-related challenges and obstacles that the industry and its highly skilled workforce face continue to be significant. We applaud Reps. Estes and Larsen for their leadership and support for aviation manufacturers and maintenance providers to retain and rehire their workforce. It is essential that both industry and government partner together to protect this vital job sector," said Pete Bunce, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President and CEO. 

"Throughout the pandemic, protecting the health, safety, and livelihoods of our world-class workforce has remained our industry’s focus," said AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning."This temporary, targeted program will allow employers to save at-risk jobs and recall workers who have been furloughed and laid off. It also makes a real investment in the workforce powering our nation’s recovery by providing for training and upskilling. We commend Reps. Ron Estes and Rick Larsen for their leadership in prioritizing these workers and our national and economic security as the country continues to meet the challenges of this crisis." 

The Secretary of Transportation 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 legislation also allows companies to recall or rehire workers, and the funds can be used for training costs. The program goes through April 2023, 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. 

The bill is supported by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Aerospace Industries Association, Aeronautical Repair Station Association, National Defense Industrial Association, Aerospace Futures Alliance, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, Helicopter Association International, National Association of State Aviation Officials, National Air Transportation Association, and National Business Aviation Association. 

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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