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Peters Leads Reintroduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Transportation Industry Workforce

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) announced he reintroduced bipartisan legislation to expand career opportunities throughout the transportation industry. The Promoting Service in Transportation Act 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. Peters reintroduced the legislation with U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).

“Investing in good-paying, 21st century transportation jobs is critical not only to growing our economy, but also ensuring that Michigan remains a national hub for transportation, trade and logistics,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. “This bipartisan bill will promote awareness of jobs in the transportation sector by recruiting pilots, drivers, technicians and service professionals and help build a diverse workforce with the skills needed to succeed in today’s economy.”

“More than eighty percent of Alaska’s communities are not on the road system, leaving residents largely dependent on air travel to reach the rest of the state and the outside world,” said Senator Sullivan. “But without the pilots, mechanics, engineers and professionals who operate and maintain our aircraft and transportation infrastructure, that connection will be lost. These jobs are so important to maintaining access to all corners of our state, and they also happen to be great opportunities for Alaskans to build a career and support a family at a time when many are out of work and struggling financially. I’m glad to reintroduce this legislation with Senators Peters and Cortez Masto to help fill the gaps in service and ensure we maintain a robust and capable workforce that can transport Alaskans and our goods.”

 “As Nevada recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, more residents and tourists alike will be relying on public transportation.” said Senator Cortez Masto. “As a part of my Innovation State Initiative, I’m helping the Silver State develop state-of-the-art transportation services, and we must make sure that the growing transportation workforce is as diverse as the people it moves. That means increasing awareness about available jobs and breaking down barriers for people of color to enter the workforce.”

“Our goal at Macomb Community College is to ensure our students are equipped with the skills and resources necessary to obtain good-paying jobs that help grow the Southeast Michigan economy,” said James O. Sawyer IV, Ed.D., president, Macomb Community College. “This bill will provide students with information and opportunities to explore career paths in transportation, including supply chain management, that will be critical for the future of our state and country. We applaud Senator Peters’ leadership on this front and appreciate his efforts to enhance our state’s workforce.”

“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 150,000 truckers.

“I thank Senator Peters for introducing this legislation which will help build a brighter, more diverse and inclusive future for the transportation sector by highlighting to young people of all races, genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses that industries, such as aviation, offer an exciting career path with opportunities for professional growth and advancement of a sustainable transportation system," said Ed Bolen, President & CEO of the National Business Aviation Association.

According to statistics  compiled by the Department of Transportation, Michigan is third only to Texas and California, with the most truck and rail freight by value moved through border ports—with Detroit being the second busiest truck and rail border port in the country. A number of industries that rely on transportation professionals have reported workforce shortages. At a May 11th subcommittee hearing that Senator Peters chaired about freight mobility, witnesses discussed recent estimates that the trucking industry needs an additional 60,800 truck drivers immediately—a deficit that is expected to grow to more than 160,000 by 2028. When anticipated driver retirement numbers are combined with the expected growth in capacity, the trucking industry will need to hire roughly 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade, or an average of nearly 110,000 per year.

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. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Rick Larsen (WA-02), Don Young (AK) and Angie Craig (MN-02).

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). In addition it is supported by the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA), Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), Cargo Airline Association (CAA), Chamber of Shipping of America (CSA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), Regional Airline Association (RAA), The TransForce Group, Women in Aviation International (WAI), and the Women In Trucking Association (WIT).

Peters has led numerous efforts in Congress to support transportation workers and other workers in industries affected by changing technologies. Earlier this year, Peters reintroduced bipartisan legislation that would better assess the impacts of automation on workers in order to inform workforce development strategies and best practices. He previously introduced 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.