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TWU, Lawmakers Push for Aircraft Maintenance in America, Not China, To Protect Fliers & U.S. Jobs

Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen and TWU-represented aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs) joined Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Nicholas LaLota (R-NY), and Marc Molinaro (R-NY) at New York’s JFK Airport and called on Congress to pass The Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act. Photo: Office of Rep. Nicole Malliotakis

New York City, NY –

Airlines are increasingly having planes fixed, overhauled, and maintained by lower-skilled workers in less-secure facilities in South America and AsiaThis upward trend increases the risk of a potentially catastrophic mechanical failure – and takes away jobs that can, and should, be done by better qualified American aviation mechanics. Today, union leaders and members of Congress urged passage of legislation to close safety loopholes and protect American jobs.

Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen and TWU-represented aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs) joined Reps. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Nicholas LaLota (R-NY), and Marc Molinaro (R-NY) at New York’s JFK Airport and called on Congress to pass The Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act.

The legislation would close troubling loopholes that currently allow foreign repair and maintenance facilities to operate without these requirements that facilities in the U.S. must comply with:

  • Drug and alcohol testing for safety-sensitive personnel
  • Background checks for workers at maintenance facilities
  • Security threat assessments for foreign facilities
  • Unannounced inspections for maintenance operations
  • Minimum qualifications for aircraft mechanics

The number of foreign repair and maintenance shops used by the U.S. airline industry has grown 36% in the last 8 years. They are located in El Salvador, Thailand, Brazil, China, Costa Rica and other countries.

“The offshoring of U.S. air carrier aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul work is a dirty little secret of the airline industry,” said TWU International President John Samuelsen. “This double standard has the potential to jeopardize the safety of the flying public and flight crews, and forces American workers to compete against cutthroat foreign facilities and their workers who are not required to meet rigorous U.S. standards. The TWU has long been a leader in the fight to stop this despicable practice, and we are proud to have the support of Reps. Malliotakis, D’Esposito, LaLota, and Molinaro in this effort.”

“Enhancing aviation safety and encouraging good-paying jobs on U.S. soil should is a top priority of ours and it should be for the entire Congress and the Biden Administration,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis said. “The Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act will stop the bleeding of American maintenance jobs to foreign countries like China and give passengers and flight crews peace of mind, knowing the best practices and safety standards are being met.”

“We must do everything we can to support American workers, create more jobs at home, and uphold the highest quality travel and safety standards. We must ensure a level playing field for American workers and prevent outsourcing whenever possible,” said Rep. LaLota. “The Global Aircraft Maintenance Safety Improvement Act will provide fairness for American workers and ensure one high standard of safety across this industry. I look forward to working with my colleagues to guarantee we put American workers first.”

“The FAA has certified nearly one thousand foreign maintenance facilities that service American aircraft. These foreign based facilities, however, are held to a lower safety standard, offshoring jobs that can be done in America. Our bill establishes a global safety standard for maintenance facilities so the highest level of aircraft safety standards are upheld and removes the incentive to move maintenance jobs overseas.  We can enhance safety and encourage quality high paying jobs here at home,” Rep. Molinaro said.

“The U.S. has the safest air transportation system in the world thanks to multiple layers of safety, highly skilled and certified workers, and rigorous standards that have been tried and tested over time. Closing the loopholes that allow foreign repair stations to undermine our safety standards and force U.S. workers to compete in an uneven market just makes sense,” D’Esposito said.

Each year, thousands of American aircraft are serviced by nearly one thousand FAA-certified maintenance and repair stations outside the United States, but those foreign facilities are not required to meet the same standards as their U.S. counterparts.

The TWU represents more than 155,000 workers across the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities and service sectors. The TWU is the largest airline workers union in the United States.