The Honorable James L. Oberstar
Chairman Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
2365 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Chairman:
On behalf of the 17 national and International unions that make up the Metal Trades Department, I am asking for your strong support in retaining the provision in H.R. 5629 that will require future offshore energy facilities operating in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to be built in the United States.
The Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, represents the majority of the shipbuilding workers in America and I can tell you we are facing shrinking budgets and declining orders for ships from the Navy and Coast Guard and we have been actively pursuing construction opportunities in the energy sector to sustain our facilities and skilled work force. The Navy has reduced its 30 year shipbuilding plan by some 45 previously planned ships. The construction of offshore drilling platforms, wind turbines, and wave energy facilities ideally match the skills and experience employed by shipyards and their suppliers in the construction of steel vessels. Without the provision in your bill, this American work will all be exported to foreign shipyards and American shipyards will continue to lose its highly skilled workforce and place the future of the shipbuilding facilities at risk. One of our shipyards facing imminent closure and shutdown is Avondale shipyard in New Orleans, Louisiana, where some 7000 Gulf Coast families are facing the loss of their good paying middle class jobs. Our Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi faces an uncertain future as Northrop Grumman just announced that it was no longer going to be in the shipbuilding business and plans to either sell its shipbuilding sector, or spin it off as a stand-alone business. The shipbuilding economic impact from Ingalls and Avondale shipyard to the Gulf Coast region is 12.6 billion dollars- more than six times the economic impact of losing the entire Gulf Coast seafood industry that is in the nightly news. We have an opportunity to create middle class manufacturing jobs with these provisions and to begin to recover from the worst recession in modern history.
I am sure you have heard from the rich and powerful oil and gas industry. They are lobbying Congress to allow the continued use of Communist Chinese builds, like BP used in the overhaul of the failed Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer. I am asking that you listen to the lone voice of the American worker who doesn’t have a rich and powerful Capitol Hill Lobbyist and to pass this legislation with the provisions on behalf of America’s shipyard workers. Commercial work is essential in saving these six national strategic defense facilities and keeping the last bastion of America’s heavy manufacturing industry from becoming extinct.
Your efforts to ensure enactment of the provision to require that offshore energy facilities be American made is critical to saving and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S., to ensuring the highest safety standards in the construction of such facilities, and to fostering American energy independence and our national security.
Thank you for your consideration of this critical provision for America’s shipbuilding workers,
Ronald E. Ault