News Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today sent a letter to President George W. Bush asking him to help ensure federal funding to assist airline and aircraft manufacturing workers who are being displaced as a result of the economic fallout from last week's terrorist attacks.

Boeing, the nation's principle commercial aircraft manufacturer, yesterday announced it would lay off up to 30,000 employees by the end of 2002, many of them in Washington state. Major U.S. airlines already have cut nearly 45,000 jobs due to decreased operations and lower passenger volume following the terrorist attacks on September 11. The airlines are predicting that layoffs this year will total approximately 100,000, nearly 10 percent of the industry workforce. In their letter, Murray and Cantwell urged President Bush to include funds for displaced workers in the economic stabilization package that is currently being developed by the Administration and congressional leaders to strengthen the airline industry.

"We believe it is critical to include funding to assist workers, particularly those in the airline and aircraft manufacturing industries, which will be displaced by the rippling economic consequences of these tragic events," the senators wrote. "This relief . . . should include job counseling and training, job search assistance, relocation allowances, and income support during training. Such assistance is the least that our nation can provide to workers whose lives will be upended by acts of terrorism."

Both Murray and Cantwell said that Boeing's decision to lay off 20,000 to 30,000 people by the end of 2002 is a serious blow to the Washington state economy.

"Our country suffered a terrible tragedy as a result of last week's terrorist attacks. In Washington state the loss has been compounded by Boeing's decision to lay off more than 20,000 workers," Murray said. "Just as our government has ensured federal support to help rebuild shattered communities and the use of our armed forces to protect our citizens, we must now ensure federal funding for the workers, families and communities who will suffer as a result of the cutbacks in the airline industry."

"These layoffs, along with those in the airline industry, are an early example of the economic fallout from last week's terrorist attacks, and America's response should be viewed as an integral part of our national defense," Cantwell said. "The loss of so many jobs will have profound effects on Boeing employees and their families, every sector of our state economy, and communities all across Washington state."

Murray and Cantwell said that Washington's congressional delegation, in cooperation with state and local governments, should help meet this challenge by pursuing three goals simultaneously:

1) Help the Workers – We need to expand existing programs, or create new ones, that will help laid-off workers train for and find new jobs, relocate if necessary, and support their families while they go through this difficult transition.

2) Strengthen the Airlines – The best way to help Boeing, and ultimately Boeing employees, is to speed the recovery of the airlines. Congress will be looking at several options, from direct economic assistance to improved airport security, to help restore passenger confidence and increase passenger volume so that the airlines will have enough revenue to buy more Boeing airplanes.

3) Direct Help for Boeing – There may be options, through tax credits or other means, to provide direct assistance to Boeing that will help the company rebound more quickly from the current downturn.