Flight Attendants Say McConnell Airline Bailout Means Deep Job Cuts

WASHINGTON (March 21, 2020) — As lawmakers are hammering out stimulus bills, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA) President Sara Nelson rang alarm bells on Senate Leader Mitch McConnell's airline bailout package that provides no direct payroll assistance for workers. In the letter blasted to Senators this afternoon, she said:

"Leader McConnell's plans for loans to the aviation industry will lead to mass layoffs and furloughs now, and more harm to workers later.

"First, airlines will not be able to keep workers on payroll even with government loans. Second, loans of that size will saddle airlines with so much debt that it will lead to bankruptcy and workers (who are right now on the front lines of this virus) will be hurt again.

"Federal money designated for payroll keeps people on the job and connected to their healthcare. The aviation industry is not executives. We are real people: Flight Attendants, pilots, screeners, baggage handlers, ramp, cabin cleaners, airport workers, catering workers and many more. And we are taxpayers.

"A real relief plan has to put workers first - always - but especially in the middle of a public healthcare crisis. Federal aid designed for payroll is the only way to prevent massive layoffs. Loans won’t cut it. Keep aviation workers and as many people as possible out of the unemployment line so that we can narrow the numbers on who need federal assistance that way.

"We can't help fight the virus by putting people out of their jobs. Leader McConnell's plan means lost jobs, lost healthcare. More people suffer today, and well into the future.

"Without direct aid to airlines designated to cover payroll for aviation workers, nearly a million workers are facing furloughs and layoffs - cut off from healthcare in the middle of a pandemic. Our plan stops that.

"This is NOT another bailout for the airlines and giant corporations. In addition to the payroll grants, airlines and others will need loans to maintain the system. We hold corporations receiving aid accountable by banning practices like stock buybacks, executive bonuses and dividends, and keeping union contracts intact.

"This matters for everyone, for the whole economy. Nearly every aviation worker must have security clearances and training. If we’re laid off, it will take months or years to rehire, extending the hurt to real people who just need to go to work and care for our families.

"Mitch McConnell is standing in the way. Under his plan, airlines and airports will cut jobs, and the debt they’ll take on will lead to bankruptcies that will further hurt frontline aviation workers while executives get a free pass."

PDF of the Letter


The Association of Flight Attendants is the Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for 74 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.

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