Washington, D.C.—A bipartisan coalition of labor unions and maritime business owners affiliated with the Shipbuilding Council of America have jointly sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass a defense appropriations bill and avoid sequestration cuts before the Navy begins widespread lay-offs and cancellation of ship maintenance on February 15, 2013.
In the letter the coalition stresses that “If no action is taken, the magnitude and indiscriminate nature of sequestration coupled with the 2013 Continuing Resolution will trigger significant reductions in operating budgets across the United States Joint Forces, degrading our military readiness and resulting in economic harm to workers and communities across the country.”
Explaining that the situation has “profound consequences for America’s workers and communities,” the letter urges Congress to pass a budget before February 15, 2013 and that failure to do so would result in:
- Up to 46,000 Department of Defense civilian employees will be immediately laid off.
- Another 800,000 workers will face furlough days resulting in a 20 percent pay cut.
- More than 100,000 people could lose jobs in the shipbuilding and repair industry and our supply chain.
The letter continues outlining the already dire consequences of inaction on the federal budget citing the February 6, 2013, Navy cancellation of the deployment of the U.S.S. Harry Truman aircraft carrier strike group, which had been scheduled to deploy to the Persian Gulf later that week. “This leaves the United States with only one aircraft carrier in place to provide critical air power for our troops in that volatile region. Looking ahead, the Navy plans to cancel all 3rd and 4th quarter repair and availabilities to address budget shortfalls due to another continuing resolution.”
The letter is signed by Ron Ault, President of the Metal Trades Department and the presidents of its affiliated unions including Patrick D. Finley, Operative Plasterers and Cement Masons; Thomas Buffenbarger, IAMAW; Joseph Nigro, SMWIA; James A. Williams, IUPAT; James T. Callahan, Operating Engineers; Newton Jones, IBB; Gregory Junemann, IFPTE; William Hite, UA; William R. Dougan, NFFE; and David J. Holway, NAGE. It is also signed by Frank Foti, SCA Chairman, CEO Vigor Industrial and the more than 100 maritime business owners who make up the Shipbuilding Council of America.
Addressing job losses in the letter the coalition explains “the jobs to be lost are in all 50 states, not just Navy homeports and coastal areas. Highly skilled workers will be laid off and might leave the industry altogether. Communities where these workers live will feel the effects in reduced support for local businesses and reduced revenue for schools and local municipal services at a time when our economy is just beginning to show signs of recovery. Many small businesses, and minority-, veteran-, women-owned and disadvantaged companies, face going out of business. New workers, including veterans, will not be hired.” And that “Once lost, many of these jobs will not return to our economy.”