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Hearing to Seek Explanation for Massive UPS Pilot Layoffs in Anchorage

Trans. Cmte Vice-Chair announces hearing to “air- out” issue and question UPS about decision to cut resident Alaskan pilots by 50%; High-paying local jobs and $20 million at stake for Alaska economy

Thursday, August 4, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska – House Transportation Committee Vice-Chair Craig Johnson, R-Anchorage, announced today that the committee will hold a hearing later this month to discuss recent major layoffs at UPS, affecting over half of the company’s Alaska-based pilot workforce. The hearing, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 31, will be held at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office and be teleconferenced statewide.

UPS announced plans to lay off 300 pilots in March, partially in response to the global recession. At the time UPS stated that it was the “right business decision” and indicated that the layoffs would affect an undisclosed number of Alaskan pilots.  It was later determined that 262 of the 300 layoffs will involve Alaskan-based pilots and that 84 Alaskan resident pilots will lose their jobs.

“The impact of the layoffs is hitting our economy,” Johnson said. “You can’t lose that many high paying jobs without negative consequences.” Johnson noted there’s a growing consensus among legislators that the issue deserves closer scrutiny, especially considering the importance of the air cargo industry to Anchorage. He said discussions are currently underway between House and Senate leaders regarding the possibility of holding a joint hearing on the topic.

Johnson pointed out that the state works hard to attract new companies and industries that are committed to Alaska hire and that UPS’ decision seems to run counter to that goal. “They are firing Alaskans and giving those jobs to pilots who live Outside. It’s clearly a net loss in terms of jobs and payroll for our economy.”

Johnson added that state and local governments are willing to provide the infrastructure and incentives necessary to attract new jobs and industry to Alaska – but stressed that the commitment has to go both ways. “In return for our investment in infrastructure, we should get jobs and opportunities for Alaskans – not ‘touch and go’s’ where a company’s employees mostly live outside and the salaries just fly away with them.”

According to the Independent Pilots Association, the layoffs will result in almost $13 million in lost payroll and millions more in Alaska unemployment benefits that will have to be paid by the state.

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