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AFA Statement on Aviation Payroll Grant Agreements

Date: April 15, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 14, 2020) — In response to Treasury's announcement of agreements in principle on the payroll grants for aviation workers under the CARES Act, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA) 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 defined by the CARES Act.

“This is an unprecedented accomplishment—a truly workers-first relief package that keeps people connected to their jobs and provides stability and hope to millions of aviation workers and sets a template we must now 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 Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown, and Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen, 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.

“Secretary Mnuchin decided to play games with this aid, rather than deliver it in the way Congress intended in the bipartisan deal. He nearly destroyed the relief for workers by taking $7 billion and attaching other onerous terms to the grants. We beat that back to $6 billion and fought off other onerous terms. Now we must ensure aviation stays intact and 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're going to make sure that doesn't happen again.

“Nor will we forget the tens of millions of workers around us who 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. The Congressional Oversight Commission and the Federal Reserve can encourage him to use that authority to extend payroll grants to keep paychecks and benefits flowing to millions of workers while we all do our part to flatten the curve on this pandemic.

“Moving forward, we will also work to strengthen and defend core pillars of our nation and democracy. That includes protecting the United States Postal Service and 550,000 essential workers. The USPS and aviation are interconnected—we fly the mail on our planes, postal cargo revenues support our jobs, and the postal service connects us to our friends, family and communities. We will also work to protect our democratic process by establishing 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 relief package 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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