Sequestration Threatens to Torpedo U.S. Shipbuilding

The IAM joined with fellow affiliates of the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department and Shipbuilders Council of America to send a joint letter to the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees urging Congress to pass a defense appropriations bill and avoid sequestration cuts before the Navy begins widespread layoffs and ship maintenance cancellations on February 15, 2013.

“Our nation is already seeing the consequences of inaction on the federal budget,” reads the letter.  “The possibility of sequestration and another continuing resolution has resulted in the cancellation of ship maintenance and repair required to support deployments. On February 6, 2013, the Navy cancelled 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 third and fourth quarter repair and availabilities to address budget shortfalls due to another continuing resolution.”

The labor and maritime business leaders warn that failure to pass a budget by February 15 will result in up to 46,000 layoffs from the Department of Defense, another 800,000 furloughs resulting in a 20 percent pay cut, and more than 100,000 jobs in the shipbuilding and repair industry and supply chain.

“Shipbuilding and repair is one of the last vestiges of family-wage heavy manufacturing in the United States,” reads the letter. “Once lost, many of these jobs will not return to our economy.

“Please take action now. Enact the defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013 and find an alternative to sequestration. Our national security, maritime industrial base and our livelihoods depend on it.”

Click here to read the letter.