Peters Announces Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Transportation Industry Workforce

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced he introduced bipartisan legislation to expand career opportunities throughout the transportation industry. The Promoting Service in Transportation Act, which Peters introduced with Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to deploy public awareness campaigns highlighting job opportunities in the transportation sector to help fill existing and future workforce shortages. A similar measure was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Rick Larsen (WA-02), Don Young (AK) and Angie Craig (MN-02).

“Michigan is a hub for transportation, trade and logistics. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, supporting jobs in the transportation industry is even more vital,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “This bipartisan bill will help recruit pilots, drivers, technicians and service professionals throughout the transportation industry and build a diverse workforce with the skills needed to succeed in today’s economy.”

“As a frontier state with major communities separated by hundreds of miles, rivers and mountain ranges, Alaska knows how important it is to have a robust and capable workforce to transport our goods and people,” said Senator Sullivan. “Without a vigorous and skilled transportation labor force, all aspects of life and our economy come to a halt. I’m glad to join Congressman Young and Senators Peters, Rosen, Gardner and Cortez Masto in putting forward legislation to fill these critical gaps in service, and promote great career opportunities for pilots, air traffic controllers, mechanics, truck drivers, and countless other transportation professionals who keep our state and country humming.”

“The transportation sector faces workforce and diversity challenges that we must address now,” said Senator Rosen. “We need to work on innovative ways to ensure we will have a workforce prepared for a 21st century economy. This bipartisan bill will work to raise awareness of jobs available in the transportation industry, such as airline pilots, flight engineers, and flight attendants, while also working to increase diversity in these fields. I will continue to support legislation to help attract the next generation of transportation professionals.”

“Colorado’s growing population and economy demand our transportation systems keep pace,” said Senator Gardner. “Pilots, bus drivers, truck drivers, technicians, and more are needed to support Colorado’s transportation priorities, and this bipartisan legislation is aimed at helping connect workers in the Centennial State to transportation job opportunities.”

“The transportation sector can provide many good-paying jobs for hardworking Nevadans, and I’m proud to cosponsor legislation that will help promote this important career field and ensure that we’re attracting the next generation of diverse workers to the industry,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I’ll continue fighting in the Senate to ensure that all Nevadans have access to job training and career opportunities.”

“We’re happy Senator Peters recognizes the important role the transportation industry plays in providing jobs to hard-working Americans. A career in trucking can be rewarding, but it’s also extremely challenging. Hopefully, this legislation will not only increase awareness of opportunities in the transportation sector, but also increase awareness of critical issues that must be addressed to ensure trucking is a viable career option,” said Todd Spencer, President & CEO of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represent more than 160,000 truckers.

"The aviation community is facing a significant workforce challenge, which has a real-world impact in Michigan, a state that is home to more than 200 airports, dozens of flight schools, tens of thousands of licensed pilots and other professionals," said National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen. "We thank Senator Peters for supporting this bill, and we look forward to working with him on all efforts to ensure its approval."

According to statistics compiled by the Department of Transportation, Michigan is second only to Texas with the most truck and rail freight moved through border ports—with Detroit being the second busiest truck border port in the country. Michigan is also home to two of the three busiest rail border ports in the country—in Detroit and Port Huron. A number of industries that rely on the transportation professionals have reported workforce shortages. For example, according to the FAA, there were about 825,000 pilots in the U.S. in 1987. The number of pilots has since declined approximately 30% — all while the industry has set records for air travel.

The Promoting Service in Transportation Act would authorize the development of public awareness campaigns that highlight the importance of and address the need for professional truck drivers, mechanics, railroad workers, air traffic controllers, pilots, and other transportation professionals. The legislation would additionally emphasize the importance of diversity in filling vacancies.

The bill is supported by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA), Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS), Transport Workers Union (TWU), Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), American Trucking Association (ATA), National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM), and the Helicopter Association International (HAI).

Peters has led numerous efforts in Congress to support transportation workers and other workers in industries affected by changing technologies. This past December, Peters helped introduce legislation that would support workers who lose their jobs due to automation through expanded access to Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits, such as job training and reemployment services. Peters also helped introduce a bipartisan bill that would better assess the impacts of automation on workers in order to inform workforce development strategies and best practices.