WASHINGTON, DC, June 29, 2011 – In a joint letter to President Obama, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) expressed deep concern over recent comments and actions questioning the value of corporate aircraft use and proposing tax changes that would negatively impact the entire general aviation industry.
The letter emphasized that while ill-informed criticism of corporate jets and business aviation may appear to some as good politics, the reality is that it hurts one of the leading manufacturing and export industries in the United States. This kind of criticism has also led to the layoff of over 20,000 IAM members.
The Administration has renewed its emphasis on strengthening U.S. manufacturing, so it seems very perplexing that it would choose to demonize this specific industry as it begins to recover and return workers to their high-skilled jobs.
“The Administration has a laudable goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years. How then can President Obama attack a manufacturing sector that exported over 60 percent of the value of its products in 2010? General aviation manufacturers can help the president meet his export goals, but not if this damaging rhetoric continues,” said GAMA President and CEO, Pete Bunce.
“Words have consequences and, in this industry, a few misguided words can put at risk even the ever-so-modest recovery we have experienced. What this industry and its workforce requires is more time to recover, a chance to book more orders and the opportunity to recall more workers,” said Tom Buffenbarger, IAM International President.
A full copy of the letter is attached.
June 29, 2011
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The United States general aviation industry is a source of approximately 1.2 million jobs and contributes over $150 billion to the U.S. economy each year. Despite the downturn, the general aviation manufacturing industry delivered $7.9 billion worth of airplanes in 2010, with 62 percent of that value tied to exports. General aviation is one of the few remaining domestic manufacturing industries that provide a trade surplus for the United States.
Our industry appreciates your emphasis on manufacturing. And our workforces, particularly the members of the Machinists Union, see your new initiatives as a very positive development.
In your address to the nation this past Saturday, June 24, you said that you are looking for ways to create more quality manufacturing jobs, make our businesses more competitive and above all, renew the promise of American manufacturing. As an industry that leads in new technology and innovation, we are encouraged by the Administration’s efforts and believe our industry will have a critical role in meeting your goals for U.S. manufacturing.
We also appreciate that in March of this year, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood paid a visit to Wichita, Kansas - home to Cessna Aircraft Company, Bombardier Learjet, Hawker Beechcraft Corporation and many other supplier and component manufacturers – and recognized the important role that our industry can play in the nation’s economic recovery. In his remarks, he stated, “Your efforts are essential to meeting President Obama’s goal of doubling exports within five years, just as they’re essential to keeping America on a trajectory toward economic recovery… You will be one of the leaders in helping the global economy pick up.”
These are encouraging actions and remarks. That is why we are perplexed over recent comments and actions questioning the value of corporate aircraft use and proposing tax changes that would negatively impact the entire general aviation industry.
During the severe economic downturn in 2008, ill-informed criticism of corporate jets and business aviation exacerbated the challenges facing our industry, which led to depressed new aircraft sales and jeopardized very good, high-paying jobs throughout the United States. More than 20,000 highly skilled IAM members were laid off in this industry.
As our industry looks to begin a recovery and the workforce returns to their high-skilled jobs, we are very concerned that the rhetoric coming from some in your Administration will lead to similar economic difficulties. While such talk may appear to some as good politics, the reality is that it hurts one of the leading manufacturing and exporting industries in the United States. And it adds to the pain so many working families have endured.
We would like you or other key economic officials in your administration to meet with us so we can find ways to promote our industry and support your manufacturing, export, and job goals. We look forward to working with you on these common goals.
Peter J. Bunce
President and CEO
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
R. Thomas Buffenbarger
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers