Flight Attendants Need Congressional Leadership to Advance Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief

Flight Attendants Need Congressional Leadership to Advance Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief

WASHINGTON, DC (December 15, 2020) — Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) International President Sara Nelson released the following statement on emergency COVID relief: 

“We call on Congress to act with urgency to make law the bipartisan Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020. This would immediately put aviation workers who have served on the frontlines of COVID for a year, back on payroll and connected to healthcare, in addition to providing emergency relief to tens of millions of Americans who are going hungry and in jeopardy of homelessness.

“Flight attendants were promised imminent relief when furloughs began October 1. The stress and strain put on people who can’t imagine why “overwhelming support” doesn’t turn into real relief has made the hardship and loss during this pandemic all the more painful. All we need is a vote to save lives and livelihoods.

“Leadership needs to bring this bipartisan package to a vote as soon as possible. Every day counts and there is simply not an option for lawmakers to leave Washington without locking in this emergency relief. Tens of millions of Americans are on the brink of disaster and we won’t make it to the New Year without emergency federal aid. This package is not enough for recovery, but it will keep us from total disaster until a real recovery plan can be put in place.

“Aviation and all essential workers have been on the frontlines of COVID since the beginning. We look forward to fighting for a full and corrective recovery. But we can’t do that if we don’t stop the bleeding now. Get it done.”

“Flight Attendants thank the bipartisan group of U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Angus King (I-ME), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) for their work on this essential legislation. Flight Attendants also applaud Chairman DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman Wicker (R-MS), Senator Cantwell (D-WA), and Representative Graves (R-MO) for their persistent leadership and efforts to lock in extended relief for aviation workers."

BACKGROUND: The Payroll Support Program from the CARES Act required airlines to direct federal funding only to worker pay and benefits, prohibited furloughs, layoffs or cuts to worker hourly pay rates, continued air service to all communities while capping executive compensation and banning stock buybacks and dividends. Even though there was overwhelming bipartisan support to continue this successful program, Congressional inaction on COVID relief meant this jobs and infrastructure plan ended October 1. Not only did this trigger mass furloughs, it started to erode vital infrastructure for our country that is even more critical now as plans are developed for vaccine distribution to end the pandemic.


The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, (AFA) AFL-CIO represents nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants at 17 airlines. AFA is the union that has advanced the Flight Attendant profession for 75 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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