The FAA today announced a proposed new rule that would apply drug and alcohol testing standards to all airline heavy maintenance mechanics, regardless of where they are on the planet.

This is a massive victory for U.S. airline passengers and workers. Airline mechanics in China and other lower-wage, lower-standard countries who work on U.S. commercial aircraft will have to undergo drug and alcohol testing - just like mechanics here. This closes a big safety gap that The Transport Workers Union and other unions have been urging the feds to close for decades.

Since the 1980s, the FAA has broadly exempted maintenance facilities outside of the U.S. from drug and alcohol testing, background checks, random safety inspections, and mechanic qualification requirements. Lower standards have resulted in lower costs for airlines, meaning the U.S government has been giving airlines a big incentive to send jobs – that can and should be done by mechanics in America – overseas to China and other countries.

Just since 2017, the U.S. airline industry has eliminated more than 5,000 mechanic jobs in the U.S. while creating 35,000 mechanic jobs outside of the U.S. This rule will begin to return these jobs back home.

For the past 40 years, the FAA has essentially encouraged U.S. airlines to ship maintenance work overseas. This rule would help reverse that harmful trend and help bring jobs home.

It is telling that one of the first rules being issued by President Biden’s FAA Administrator takes a major step to fixing this and returning good, union mechanic jobs to the U.S. Congress directed the FAA to make this change 11 years ago and its finally happening now because of the great partnership between the TWU and President Biden as we all work to create and expand good, union jobs in the U.S. airline industry.

Every TWU member applauds FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker and President Biden for issuing this rule, but it is just a first step. Congress needs to do their part by passing an FAA reauthorization bill that closes the remaining safety and oversight gaps at foreign repair stations.