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Support Aviation Workers
Sign Letter Urging Extension of Payroll Support Program
On behalf of the undersigned labor organizations, we urge you to sign the bipartisan letter being led by Reps. Peter DeFazio, Brian Fitzpatrick, Rick Larsen, John Katko, Sharice Davids, Karen Bass, and Rodney Davis. The letter asks House and Senate leadership to include an extension of the airline Payroll Support Program (PSP) in the next COVID-19 response legislation passed by Congress.
The central airline worker relief component of the CARES Act, PSP allocated $32 billion in payroll grants to commercial airlines and airline contractors exclusively “for the continuation of employee wages, salaries, and benefits.” By preventing airline recipients from any layoffs or involuntary furloughs while ensuring the continuation of payroll and benefits until September 30, 2020, the program kept hundreds of thousands of airline workers employed and with benefits during the pandemic, helped our economy, and preserved the safe movement of people and supplies across the nation and throughout the globe.
Air travel remains a slight fraction of last year’s levels and demand will remain depressed well into next year. Aviation workers account for five percent of the nation’s GDP. Should October 1 arrive without extending the PSP, mass layoffs are inevitable. In fact, last week United Airlines announced that it could be forced to furlough half of its workforce—36,000 aviation professionals throughout the country—when the current program ends. In total, hundreds of thousands of workers will lose their jobs and health insurance—not only in aviation, but across our entire economy. Further, the industry would lose a large portion of the experienced and credentialed workforce that will be critical to bringing the sector and the broader economy back to prosperity once the COVID-19 crisis is over. Airline industry employment cannot simply be put back together overnight, and mass layoffs will do great damage to the sector and our economy, with potentially irrevocable consequences.
This sign-on letter calls for leadership to pass a clean extension of the PSP through March 31, 2021, allowing the program to continue as intended under the current statute without requiring additional applications or agreements between Treasury and the recipients. This is the simplest and fastest way to maintain Congress’ historic commitment to keep aviation workers on payroll—many of whom are on the front lines of this deadly virus.
Only through an extension of PSP grants can Congress ensure that airline workers will continue to stay on payroll and ready to turn the industry around, prevent mass unemployment in October, and keep aviation workers ready to lift off as travel picks back up. We urge you to stand up for airline and airline contractor workers and sign on to this important letter. To be added, please reach out to Cheniqua Johnson (Cheniqua.Johnson@mail.house.
gov) on the Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation Subcommittee.
Joe DePete, President, Air Line Pilots Association
Eric Ferguson, President, Allied Pilots Association
Julie Hedrick, National President, Association of Professional Flight Attendants
James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Pedro Leroux, President, NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots
Sara Nelson, International President, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA
Sito Pantoja, General Vice President for Transportation, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Mike Perrone, National President, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists
Paul Rinaldi, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association
John Samuelsen, International President, Transport Workers Union
Christopher M. Shelton, President, Communications Workers of America
Jonathan L. Weaks, President, Southwest Airlines Pilots Association
Larry I. Willis, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO
July __, 2020
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
United States House of Representatives
U.S. Capitol, H-232
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
U.S. Capitol, S-230
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
United States House of Representatives
U.S. Capitol, H-204
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Charles Schumer
United States Senate
U.S. Capitol, S-221
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer:
As you enter into negotiations regarding legislation to further address the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we write to urge you to extend the extremely successful Payroll Support Program (PSP) included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136), which saved the jobs of 950,000 of frontline airline industry workers such as mechanics, baggage handlers, gate agents, catering workers, flight attendants, and pilots, among others. Roughly 750,000 of these women and men work directly for airlines, and at least 200,000 work for airline contractors and clean cabins, prepare meals, and handle baggage, among other things.
The PSP—a novel program in which the government effectively passes paychecks to airline industry workers through their employers—will keep workers on the payrolls and off unemployment lines through September 30, 2020. But while time marches on, so does the pandemic, with hardly any green shoots sprouting for the airlines as they continue to face the worst crisis by far in the industry’s history. On Wednesday, United Airlines put 36,000 workers across the country on notice that they could be furloughed on or after October 1. Other carriers have issued and will issue similar notices.
According to the most recent airline traffic data, U.S. air carriers reported a 96 percent drop in passenger traffic for April 2020 over April 2019. And so far in July, total traveler throughput at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints dropped by, on average, more than 70 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Without further relief from Congress, mass layoffs among airline industry workers are inevitable—and their magnitude will eclipse those of any furloughs the industry has ever seen.
The PSP’s payroll pass-through saved hundreds of thousands of frontline airline workers’ jobs—and not a penny went to the airlines themselves or their shareholders. According to Secretary Mnuchin’s own calculations, taxpayers realized a 70 percent return just from payroll and income tax receipts and reduced unemployment insurance payments. Other sizable government savings, made possible by keeping tens of thousands of airline workers employed, include those to Medicaid and state unemployment programs.
With the resurgence of COVID-19 in several States across the country and a vaccine for the virus yet to be developed, passenger demand for air travel will not recover before the PSP expires on September 30. And without an extension of the PSP before then, hundreds of thousands of airline workers will be fired or furloughed on October 1. To save nearly one million airline industry jobs, we must extend the PSP through March 31, 2021.
Thank you for your attention to this extremely important matter that will save jobs and ensure the U.S. airline system remains viable as a national security asset and engine of economic recovery once the pandemic is finally behind us.
International Training Coordinator,
Gary Schultz, Retires
UPDATE FROM YOUR EXECUTIVE BOARD
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to place an enormous economic strain on our industry, we must all continue to stay vigilant of our health as not just individuals, but those all around us at work and at home. This pandemic is far from over, and the theory that summer weather may help reduce transmission has not proven to be a resolution. As a matter of fact there has been a significant uptick in cases in a few locations nationwide. OSHA has published the Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 in which they identify four levels of occupational levels of risk. By applying good hygiene (frequent hand washing/sanitizing, covering coughs/sneezes) and proper physical distancing (minimum 6 feet) from others, as dispatchers we fall into the Low Risk category. However, without following the precautions established by both OSHA and the CDC we could easily fall into the Medium Risk category. All our employers should have EPA-approved disinfectants readily available for our workstations and we each must ensure it is being used. If personal protective resources are not available, please inform management directly or notify your local union representative so it can be immediately addressed. Furthermore, the CDC currently recommends that everyone wear cloth face coverings when leaving their homes, regardless of whether they have symptoms of COVID-19. This is because of evidence that people with COVID-19 can spread the disease even when they do not have symptoms. Depending where you live this may also be a requirement while out in public or even flying on some of our own carriers. Because of this TWU 592 has ordered cloth facemasks for all our members that we hope to have delivered in the next few weeks. A common question being asked is “Why would I wear a cloth mask when it won’t protect me from getting COVID?” The answer is this; you are right – it won’t really protect you from getting it, but it does prevent you from spreading it to others when you don’t know you have it. Wearing a mask is about those around you and their loved ones! We will get through this pandemic as a strong Union by each of us being responsible members.
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The TWU Air Division launched a podcast!
Click here to listen to the inaugural episode. TWU Local 513 Strategic Action Coordinator Brian Parker hosts, along with TWU Air Division Coordinator Gary Peterson.
Gary explains what the Air Division is, who’s in the Division and how it works in support of the locals. He also talks about planning ahead for campaigns and the importance of member involvement to support campaigns.
You can also find episodes on the TWU Air Division webpage.
Stay tuned for a second episode this week!
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