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By Turning CARES Act Grants into Loans, Treasury Department is Hurting Aviation Industry and Frontline Workers

Washington, DC – The leaders of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the Transport Workers Union (TWU), UNITE HERE, and the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issue this joint statement in response to the Treasury Department’s decision to issue a significant portion of aviation CARES Act grants as loans:

“Aviation unions fought for and secured in the CARES Act a landmark requirement that aid to the airline industry, in the form of grants, go exclusively to worker payroll and be used to protect collective bargaining agreements. This requirement was designed to get money to workers quickly, while keeping the air system functional for passengers and cargo, and ensure workers are well-positioned to steer the industry when demand returns. The decision by the Department of Treasury to turn a portion of those grants into loans is irresponsible, without merit, flies in the face of Congressional intent, and creates a long-term burden that is likely to harm the very people the grants were designed to help: frontline aviation workers.

“When Congress passed the CARES Act, lawmakers were deliberate in their decision to create a payroll grant program that ‘shall exclusively be used for the continuation of employee wages, salaries, and benefits.’ The CARES Act also created a discrete loan program to provide airlines funding that is designed to be repaid. Congress was clear that these programs are separate.

“The Treasury Department’s decision to transform direct payroll aid into a loan program creates a terrible precedent and endangers workers’ careers. We urge Congress to use its oversight and legislative powers to remedy this distortion of the law and ensure frontline workers are not further harmed by this crisis.”

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