Let's Talk About our Government
January 19, 2021
As you’re aware, Congress passed legislation in late December that provided an extension of our Payroll Support Program (PSP). In simple terms, this PSP payroll protected our work group from December 2020 through March 2021, brought back all furloughed Flight Attendants and cancelled the IVFMP LOA.
While this is great news, it is also a relatively short extension, so what happens next?
Over the course of the past couple of weeks, we’ve talked about our corporate leadership, the industry, our community, our contract and all of that paints a picture of what we will face come April. Keeping all of that in context, what becomes clear is the best path forward for us in the immediate future is an extension of the PSP or a new effort that supports our industry through the upcoming days of the continuing pandemic.
Both our Union and Congressional leadership made clear that the recent legislation was just a “down payment” on further efforts in the days ahead.
Tomorrow, Americans will have a new White House Administration, and as of today a Democratic majority in both the House and Senate. We are optimistic these changes will lead to a strengthening of efforts to buoy all Americans through the financial crisis resulting from the pandemic. To be clear, this is not a party issue, it’s an American issue. Millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, despite their hard work and efforts have found themselves devastated by the economic collapse resulting from the pandemic.
Our industry has been hit particularly hard and we are grateful for the support we’ve received thus far through the PSP. However, this crisis and that work are not yet done. It’s not realistic for the government to continue to support us forever, but it is more than reasonable and responsible for them to do so in the midst of the worst days we’re facing so far. The airline industry is critical for our nation - we carry the vaccine, the medicine, the equipment and personnel to where they need to be to do their good work. We connect the businesses that can’t do what they need to do via online meetings, we carry the U.S. mail, cargo and essential items to all aspects of society, both domestic and abroad. The very foundation and infrastructure of our country relies on us bridging together the American and international cities through the skies. A collapse or implosion of our contribution to society is simply unacceptable.
So, for now, today and tomorrow, we need the support of our government to allow us to keep doing that good work until we are back on our feet again. But we have a critical part to play in getting this accomplished.
In all likelihood, we will once again be asked to call our elected representatives and make our voices heard. Because support and livelihood will not come just because we believe it’s important. We need to make sure our Congressional leaders understand just how critical we are.
We know you may be tired of calling. You may feel “what’s the point?” But we can’t rely on others to do the work for us, unless we’re also willing to accept the result of failure. We cannot, we must not fail, because the alternative could be thousands, or tens of thousands, of us out on the street – without a paycheck, without benefits and away from a profession we all love.
But in the big picture of things look at the effort vs the reward. If each of us calls and emails twice a day, every single day; that’s 50,000 contacts per day. In other words, that’s 1.5 MILLION calls and emails a month; that’s an enormous impact. But there is still more, if each of us gets 3 more people to call with us (your spouse/partner, family, friend, children, grandparents) that’s 250,000 calls/emails a day or 7.5 MILLION each month.
Pie in the sky? We should always choose optimism over dejection, and honestly, what’s the alternative? This is our best option, and one in which we agree with United management, our flying partners at other carriers and other industry management.
We’ve talked about a Flight Attendant family, well this is our big, “to be reckoned with” extended family with whom we are working – so imagine the impact we can make if we settle in for the long-game and each of us makes the commitment to do the work, and push as hard as we can. Honestly, the only thing we have to lose is 5 minutes a day.
We have not only the ability but the power to pull this off. If successful, our pay, benefits and most importantly our careers and industry are protected – no furloughs, no mitigation programs, no unemployment, combined with the ability to take time off through SPCOLA programs. It really is the best, of the best.
If that’s not worth sacrificing a few minutes each day for, then what is? If not for ourselves if we’re above the line, then for a junior flying partner. If not for just our airline, but for our friends at American, Delta, Southwest and everywhere. If not just for the Flight Attendants, then for the customer service, ramp and ground workers, as well as every single person tied to our industry who depends on us to fly.
While we are an unimaginably diverse group of people, United Flight Attendants, the core values we all share is our empathy and compassion. Some of us may need to reach deeper than others, but we must all be willing to step up, and do what it takes to create a solid bridge to a secure future we can rely on.