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AFA Statement on Aviation Payroll Grant Agreements

Date: April 14, 2020

In response to the agreements on payroll grants set forth for aviation workers under the CARES Act, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International President Sara Nelson released the following statement:

“We are closer than ever to almost a million airline workers knowing they will receive their paycheck and keep their healthcare and other benefits, at least through September.

“At the same time, we were able to rein in the worst corporate practices by tying this aid to restrictions on stock buybacks, executive compensation and dividends.

“Through our efforts, we also ensured Flight Attendants and other aviation workers who took voluntary leave or furloughs to protect their colleagues are eligible for enhanced unemployment benefits as part of the CARES Act.

“This is an unprecedented accomplishment—a truly workers-first stimulus that keeps people connected to their jobs and provides stability and hope to millions of aviation workers and sets a template we must now work to extend to every worker.

“We are deeply grateful for the visionary leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio, Senate Banking, and Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown, who fought to put workers first. Without their unwavering support for working people, this bipartisan agreement to protect our jobs would never have been possible. We are grateful to leaders who also worked diligently to keep our industry intact when Treasury Secretary Mnuchin delayed this critical aid, including Transportation Secretary Chao, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman Roger Wicker, Aviation and Space Subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz, and House Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves.

“Every passenger has heard a Flight Attendant say that if the oxygen masks drop, you put on your own mask first so you can help others. That’s exactly the approach we took here. With our jobs, pay and benefits protected, aviation workers have the strength we need to fight forward for ourselves and all workers. And we must fight.

“Unfortunately, Secretary Mnuchin decided to play games with this aid, rather than deliver it in the way Congress intended in the bipartisan deal. Now we must fight to keep aviation intact to protect our industry and ensure our economy lifts off again when the virus is under control. We have seen what happens when investment bankers like Secretary Mnuchin control the outcomes, and we will not stand by to watch it play out again.

“Nor will we forget the tens of millions of workers around us are suffering now. We will use our strength to extend this same model to every possible industry. The Treasury Secretary has broad authority over the $454 billion Economic Stabilization Fund, and we will continue to that he extend payroll grants to keep paychecks and benefits flowing to millions of workers while we all do our parts to flatten the curve on this pandemic

“Our fight is bigger than our jobs, so we will work to strengthen and defend core pillars of our nation and democracy. That includes efforts like protecting the United States Postal Service and 600,000 of our fellow workers there, and establishing a national vote by mail to ensure every American can safely make their voices heard in November.

“Mother Jones told us ‘We will fight and win. Fight and lose. But above all, we must fight.’ Because aviation workers stood together and fought, we have won a workers-first stimulus unlike anything in history. Now, we must continue to fight to protect what we’ve won, extend it to others, and rise together as working people to defeat this crisis and rescue our democracy.

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