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Airline Labor Unions Call on Congress to Extend Relief

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
H-232, The Capitol
Washington, DC  20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
H-204, The Capitol
Washington, DC  20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
S-230, The Capitol
Washington, DC  20510

The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate
S-221, The Capitol
Washington, DC  20510

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy and Leader Schumer:

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of aviation professionals that we collectively represent, we appreciate your efforts to help keep the airline industry afloat during the healthcare and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act saved jobs through the Payroll Support Program (PSP) that allocated $32 billion in payroll grants to commercial airlines and airline contractors exclusively “for the continuation of employee wages, salaries, and benefits.” This critical legislation has kept hundreds of thousands of airline workers employed and covered under their healthcare plans during the pandemic. This aid has sustained an industry of national importance, helped our economy, and preserved our communities’ connectivity to the national and global economy. By preventing airline recipients from any layoffs or involuntary furloughs while ensuring the continuation of payroll and benefits until September 30, 2020, this critical legislation has kept hundreds of thousands of airline workers employed 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 5% of the nation’s GDP. Should October 1 arrive without extending the PSP grant job program mass layoffs are inevitable, as airline executives have acknowledged. 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, with potentially irrevocable consequences.

Therefore, we are calling on Congress 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. Attached is legislative language that would extend this vital jobs program and all of the requirements on operators that go with it.

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 include this simple and necessary provision in the next COVID-19 response package, and appreciate your continued support for airline and airline contractor employees in our country.

Sincerely,

Joe DePete, President, Air Line Pilots Association

Sara Nelson, International President, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA

Sito Pantoja, General Vice President for Transportation, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

John Samuelsen, International President, Transport Workers Union

Christopher M. Shelton, President, Communications Workers of America

Larry I. Willis, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

 

CC:      Senator Mike Crapo
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Roger Wicker
Senator Maria Cantwell
Representative Peter DeFazio
Representative Sam Graves

 

Draft Legislative Language:

SEC. XX. AMENDMENTS TO PANDEMIC RELIEF FOR AVIATION WORKERS. (a) INCREASED AUTHORITY FOR COMMITMENTS AND APPROPRIATIONS FOR PAYROLL SUPPORT PROGRAM.—Title IV of division A of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Public Law 116–136) is amended— (1) in section 4112(a)(1), by striking ‘‘$25,000,000,000’’ and inserting ‘‘$50,000,000,000’’; and (2) in section 4112(a)(2), by striking ‘‘$4,000,000,000’’ and inserting ‘‘$8,000,000,000’’; (3) in section 4112(a)(3), by striking ‘‘$3,000,000,000’’ and inserting ‘‘$6,000,000,000’’; and (4) in section 4120, by striking “$32,000,000,000” and inserting “$64,000,000,000.”

SEC. XX. EXTENSION OF PAYROLL SUPPORT. (a) Title IV of division A of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Public Law 116–136) is amended—

(1) Section 4114(a)(1) is amended by striking ‘‘September 30, 2020’’ and inserting “March 31, 2021 or the date on which such financial assistance is fully exhausted, whichever is later”;

(2) Section 4114(a)(2) is amended by striking ‘‘September 30, 2020’’ and inserting “March 31, 2021, or the date on which such financial assistance is fully exhausted, whichever is later.”;

(3) Section 4114(a)(3) is amended by striking ‘‘September 30, 2020’’ and inserting “March 31, 2021, or the date on which such financial assistance is fully exhausted, whichever is later.”; and

(4) “Section 4115 of such Act is amended by striking subsection (b)

SEC XX. EXPEDITED PROCEDURES FOR PROVIDING ADDITIONAL PAYROLL SUPPORT. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Public Law 116–136) is amended— (1) in section 4113 (a), by inserting as paragraph (e) the following, “to every air carrier and contractor that executed a Payroll Support Program Agreement with Treasury, the Secretary shall make an additional payroll support payment in an amount equal to the total payroll support provided in the Payroll Support Program Agreement.”

 

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