AFA to McConnell: 15 Day Deadline. Pass COVID Relief NOW.

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson calls on Congress to pass COVID relief before mass furloughs create a new unemployment wave

Washington, D.C. (September 15, 2020) — Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) International President Sara Nelson issued the following urgent statement to lawmakers:

“Congress has 15 days to act. Without a COVID relief bill that includes an extension of the Payroll Support Program (PSP), tens of thousands of aviation workers will lose their jobs on October 1, and that’s only the beginning.

“Majority Leader McConnell: The PSP enjoys overwhelming bipartisan, bicameral support. Inaction is not an option. You’ve got a simple way to prevent significant pain, but you’ve got to act now before our jobs are lost and small communities are cut off, causing more harm and more job loss.

“In March, we all hoped to be in a very different place by now. But as the U.S. continues to lead the world in cases and deaths, aviation revenue is still down 85 percent and we are cut off from the rest of the world.

“I know members of Congress are eager to hit the campaign trail. We are ready to greet them. We have rallied at dozens of congressional offices, including Denver, Charlotte, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Orlando, Toledo, Allentown, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, and a march at the U.S. Capitol. If Congress leaves without passing relief, millions of workers across key states will know who is responsible. We are grateful for those who have stepped up, but let me be clear: Without relief, you will not receive credit. We do not award participation trophies.

“The PSP protected workers from involuntary furloughs, and kept us connected to healthcare and other benefits. It also prevented bad corporate behavior: no buybacks; no executive raises or bonuses; no paying out for Wall Street investors; no cutting service to small markets to save money. And it worked, delivering critical aid more efficiently and at a far lower cost than any other job programs included in earlier relief packages. And as essential workers, we kept vital aviation service running to every community.

“The PSP must be extended—as Congress must also extend relief to other key sectors. We may be the industry facing a hard deadline, but make no mistake: tens of millions of workers face deadlines each month to pay rent and mortgages; cities and states face deadlines to craft budgets that provide critical services from education to public safety to sanitation; the US Postal Service faces deadlines to maintain universal service, retain hundreds of thousands of workers; and millions of unemployed face down the end of their benefits in an economy where there are five job seekers for every job.

“I have been a union negotiator for more than 20 years. I know a deal can come together in hours, even in the deepest stalemate. And I also know – because we are talking to members across Congress – there is an agreement that only requires leadership to make. We saw how quickly Washington can move at the end of the 2019 shutdown, when a deal was reached within a few hours of air traffic stopping at a handful of airports. There is a deal to be made. No more delays. Make it. Pass relief now.”


The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, (AFA) AFL-CIO represents nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants at 19 airlines. AFA is the union that has advanced the Flight Attendant profession for 74 years, beating back discrimination and improving wages, benefits, working conditions, and aviation safety, health and security in the aircraft cabin. AFA also partners with the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at

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