San Diego Shipbuilding Workers Rally For Their Jobs
Looming federal budget cuts could take a serious slice out of an industry that provides high paying jobs to the local economy.
"Yes it's for our readiness," said San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. "Yes it's for our future. Yes it's for ship repair. Yes it's for our Navy. But it's about you guys who work every single day, with great competence, with energy."
The several hundred workers who gathered near the Continental Maritime Shipyard represent just a fraction of the 5,000 jobs that hang in the balance.
If Congress cannot build a deal before next week's sequester deadline, the cuts will be automatic, deep and across the board. Shipbuilders say families that depend on military contracts for their livelihood will have to do without.
"The defense of the nation is too important to play political games over. We need a defense budget. We need an appropriations bill," said Derry Pence with the San Diego Ship Repair Association. "To allow us to, these folks are the silent patriots. They maintain these ships and make sure they can go in harm's way and return."
The ship repair association said the San Diego region could lose $400 million worth of defense related projects. Workers know what's at stake. It is their jobs.
Losing 5,000 high paying jobs will be devastating for San Diego's ship building industry, but the effects will be felt far beyond the shipyards here on San Diego Bay. The entire region of San Diego would feel those job losses.
"There's a huge economic impact to the kind of budgeting by crisis that we're doing in Washington," said Congressman Scott Peters, who represents the 52nd District. "Because people can't plan, families don't know if they have jobs, and businesses are holding back from investing, which would also create jobs."
Congress needs to cut spending, but the cuts should be strategic, said Peters. Economists said the region's fragile economic recovery hangs in the balance and deep cuts could push the economy back into a recession.