02.01.17

Schatz, Kilmer Lead Bicameral Legislation to Exempt Navy Shipyards from Federal Hiring Freeze

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) introduced legislation that would exempt employees of Navy public shipyards and other employees that directly support the shipyards from President Trump’s federal hiring freeze. Original cosponsors of the Senate bill include U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

The Trump administration’s blanket hiring freeze is already impacting Navy shipyards, including the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. The freeze prevents shipyards across the country from hiring engineers, acquisition workforce personnel, trade mechanics, radiological and emergency personnel, regulatory compliance and other support personnel that are necessary to maintaining the Navy’s surface and submarine fleets.

“The men and women at our public shipyards work to keep the Navy’s fleets at sea and keep America safe,” said Senator Schatz. “Our shipyards already face workforce shortages and this hiring freeze will only worsen their ability to get our ships and submarines back out on deployment. Our bill will help reverse this and give Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and shipyards across the country the freedom to hire the people they need to support the Navy and its mission.”

“Our nation’s shipyards keep our nation safe and provide quality jobs to veterans and patriotic civilians,” said Congressman Kilmer. “Unfilled positions in our shipyards mean our ships and submarines spend more time in port and less time on mission. That’s why we are introducing legislation to ensure that shipyard workers and other critical defense employees are not impacted by President Trump’s move to freeze federal hiring.”

“The highly skilled workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard perform critical work that helps the Navy successfully execute its mission, contributing to our national security and our state’s economic vitality,” said Senator Hassan. “I’m proud to co-sponsor this important legislation to exempt shipyard civilian employees from President Trump’s federal hiring freeze, and I will continue working with my colleagues on both side of the aisle to ensure that partisan politics don’t prevent America's shipyards from fulfilling their vital missions.”

“President Trump’s hiring freeze hurts our shipyards, impairs maintenance of our Naval fleet and directly undermines our national security,” said Senator Shaheen. “In New Hampshire, I have already heard from several new hires whose start date at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has been postponed due to this hiring freeze. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard must be able to continue local hiring to ensure that critical maintenance requirements are met so our submarine fleet can address security challenges around the world.”

“The civilian workforce at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard plays a critical role in keeping the Pacific fleet fit to fight. The lack of specificity in President Trump’s Executive Order to freeze civilian hiring is causing confusion that will delay fleet maintenance and impair our ability to meet crucial national security requirements,” said Senator Hirono. “Exempting shipyard personnel is a key first step to ensuring military readiness, but we in Congress must continue to fight this harmful freeze as a whole to keep our federal workforce at full strength to do the jobs the American people depend on.”

“Not only are our shipyard workers essential to keeping America safe, but they live in and contribute to coastal economies throughout the country,” said Senator Cantwell.  “Here in Washington, Bremerton’s Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is the economic driver for the Kitsap region, supporting thousands of jobs in addition to those on base. Every day that the Administration blocks newly hired employees from showing up to work, hurts our Navy’s readiness and sends ripple effects through small communities like Bremerton.”

While the president’s executive order states that it does not apply to military personnel or positions considered essential to meet national security responsibilities, the lack of clarity has caused confusion at shipyards across the country. The legislation makes it clear that employees of the Navy public shipyards and those employees that directly support the shipyards are essential to national security and should not be subject to a hiring freeze that will negatively impact their mission-essential work.

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