On behalf of the undersigned labor organizations, we urge you to sign the bipartisan letter being led by Reps. Peter DeFazio, Brian Fitzpatrick, Rick Larsen, John Katko, Sharice Davids, Karen Bass, and Rodney Davis. The letter asks House and Senate leadership to include an extension of the airline Payroll Support Program (PSP) in the next COVID-19 response legislation passed by Congress.
The central airline worker relief component of the CARES Act, PSP allocated $32 billion in payroll grants to commercial airlines and airline contractors exclusively “for the continuation of employee wages, salaries, and benefits.” By preventing airline recipients from any layoffs or involuntary furloughs while ensuring the continuation of payroll and benefits until September 30, 2020, the program kept hundreds of thousands of airline workers employed and with benefits 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 five percent of the nation’s GDP. Should October 1 arrive without extending the PSP, mass layoffs are inevitable. In fact, last week United Airlines announced that it could be forced to furlough half of its workforce—36,000 aviation professionals throughout the country—when the current program ends. In total, 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 and our economy, with potentially irrevocable consequences.
This sign-on letter calls for leadership 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.
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 stand up for airline and airline contractor workers and sign on to this important letter. To be added, please reach out to Cheniqua Johnson (Cheniqua.Johnson@mail.house.gov) on the Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation Subcommittee.
Joe DePete, President, Air Line Pilots Association
Eric Ferguson, President, Allied Pilots Association
Julie Hedrick, National President, Association of Professional Flight Attendants
James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Pedro Leroux, President, NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots
Sara Nelson, International President, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA
Sito Pantoja, General Vice President for Transportation, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Mike Perrone, National President, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists
Paul Rinaldi, President, National Air Traffic Controllers Association
John Samuelsen, International President, Transport Workers Union
Christopher M. Shelton, President, Communications Workers of America
Jonathan L. Weaks, President, Southwest Airlines Pilots Association
Larry I. Willis, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO