AFA Statement on Passage of the American Rescue Plan Act Including Extension of the Aviation Payroll Support Program

Washington, D.C. (March 10. 2021) —The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO (AFA) released the following statement from AFA International President Sara Nelson following the passage and signing of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, including an extension of the Aviation Payroll Support Program through September 30, 2021:

“Workers first! Trickle down economics is dead and President Biden’s Build Back Better plan is starting to take effect as we build our economy from the ground up. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 provides the resources to end the pandemic and jumpstart our economy. This is desperately needed relief, but it’s also just the start and we’ll all be stronger to fight for more to make sure working people don’t pay for this crisis and the horrific deficits exposed by the pandemic are shored up. All Americans need a living wage, access to healthcare, education, housing, and a secure retirement. The ARP is a reset and a significant start. 

“For Flight Attendants and other aviation workers this bill passage means continuing the historic Workers First Payroll Support Program that we achieved in the CARES Act a year ago. Aviation workers will receive a paycheck and healthcare through September, and stay current on our certifications so we’re in place to meet demand as vaccinations are readily available and travel returns to the skies.

“Almost exactly one year ago, our industry fell into an unprecedented crisis as demand dropped more than ninety percent nearly overnight. Facing catastrophic job losses and a dismantling of air infrastructure, our union first proposed the Payroll Support Program (PSP) on March 13, 2020. Thanks to this workers-first relief measure, we kept critical service in place to all communities, hundreds of thousands of aviation workers out of the unemployment lines, connected to our healthcare, continuing to pay taxes that support our state and local budgets, maintain contributions to social security, medicare and other long term programs. The program kept all systems in place. Simple solutions that protect and shore up people on the frontlines of our economy, both now and for our future. At the same time, our program reined in the worst corporate behavior by preventing layoffs, capping executive compensation for two years after relief ends, and banning stock buybacks and dividends for a year after the relief ends. 

“This program is a testament to the power of working people acting in solidarity. At the beginning of the crisis, we asked ourselves, ‘What do workers need?’ We didn’t allow what was ‘possible’ to constrain our demands. Our union has been through a crisis before, and we knew we had to prevent this crisis from being put on our backs. Aviation workers came together through our unions, found common ground with airlines, and worked with allies in Congress to pass this critical aid. It’s no mistake that this happened in aviation, where nearly eighty percent of the workforce is unionized. Speaking with a united voice, we enacted the PSP and have now successfully extended it twice. 

“Our PSP was overwhelmingly bipartisan, but it would not have been possible from the start without the relentless efforts of Chairman Peter DeFazio, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Chairwoman Maria Cantwell, and of course now with the leadership of President Joe Biden.

“As we work to recover from the pandemic, Flight Attendants stand ready to work with anyone who wants to help America soar again.”


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

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