Executive Orders Kill Our Jobs, But Congress Can Save Them

Washington, D.C. (August 9, 2020) — Following the announcement of Executive Orders from the White House, Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International President Sara Nelson released the following statement:

“The White House put hundreds of thousands of aviation jobs in jeopardy by interfering in Congressional negotiations with the announcement of ineffective Executive Orders. Our nation is in crisis. Congress must act.”

“The Constitution dictates that all funding measures - including pandemic relief for struggling Americans - are the responsibility of the Congress. Joining Democrats, Senate Republicans made clear this week they understand the urgency of this crisis for aviation workers and the communities we serve. An extension of payroll support would be a part of a full relief bill. Executive orders leave us out in the cold. We need Congressional leadership at the table right now.

“An overwhelming bipartisan majority of Congress supports extending the CARES Act Payroll Support Program (PSP), which has kept nearly a million aviation workers on payroll, on healthcare, and out of the unemployment lines. It’s the most effective jobs program of coronavirus relief. The public dollars must only be spent to keep people employed, continue paychecks, healthcare and retirement contributions. At the same time the program prohibits corporations from issuing stock buybacks or dividends and puts a cap on executive compensation even after the relief period. This keeps a vital industry intact with credentialed workers ready to lift our economy immediately once the virus is contained rather than waiting the months and years it will take to hire and retrain the workforce.

“The public and our economy also benefit because the program requires airlines to continue serving all of our communities. Without the extension, small communities around the nation are in jeopardy of losing the vital access air service provides. This would be especially harmful as people are isolated due to the pandemic. If we are going to contain the virus, heal our nation, and be ready to compete around the world we’ve got to keep aviation workers in our jobs and service continuing to all of our communities.

“These pandemic relief negotiations are not a game for working people. Aviation workers have been on the frontlines, bearing a disproportionate share of the risks, much like postal workers, meat cutters, grocery workers, public transportation, retail, nurses, and teachers. Our jobs, health, and financial security are at stake. Every day of inaction makes the price of recovery and the lives lost higher.

“In March, everyone assumed by now we’d have the virus contained and recovery in our sights. The opposite is true and so we must act to keep successful programs going and maintain the services Americans count on for our safety, security, and stability.

“Failing to get to a relief bill done in the coming days is not an option. It will be catastrophic for workers, our families, and the communities where we live and work. This impending pain for Americans is completely avoidable. Committees and congressional staff have been working to prepare the legislation that will extend our highly efficient and effective program in aviation, in addition to the needs of Americans across the country. Tens of millions who are out of work through no fault of their own need the extension of enhanced unemployment benefits. Rural Americans need Congress to provide funds to keep their hospitals from closing down. Cities and states need help to avoid massive budget shortfalls that will lead to huge layoffs for public workers and massive cuts to services from schools to sanitation to transportation. Every American who counts on the mail - from the four million people a day who receive prescription drugs to the hundred thousand veterans working the union job with our United States Postal Service - needs Congress to protect our postal service and refuse to allow our national treasure to be sold for parts.

“We know from conversations with members of Congress in both parties that a deal is possible. The relevant committees and staff are still working hard. The White House has stood in the way of solutions for millions of Americans who are desperate for help. We call on Leader McConnell to reclaim his place in negotiations and we call on Congressional Republicans and Democrats to negotiate a real relief bill on behalf of the American people. Congress must act.


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 www.afacwa.org.


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