Rep. Crenshaw: United Must “Live Up to its Obligations”

Rep. Crenshaw: United Must “Live Up to its Obligations”

Another lawmaker has voiced support for the unionized ramp and customer service agents at United Airlines as they continue to push back against proposed furloughs at the airline. This week, Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R-Tx), issued a statement calling on United to “live up to its obligations” and abide by the rules of the CARES Act.

Congressman Dan Crenshaw, who serves the people of the 2nd Congressional District of Texas in the House of Representatives, responded to a constituent who contacted him after United Airlines announced cuts in the hours of work for over 16,000 airport and call center employees. In a letter, Rep. Crenshaw wrote: “I voted for the CARES Act because I understand the importance of sustaining our airline workforce during this difficult time.”

As a member of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Crenshaw helps craft the annual budget resolution which determines funding policies for the federal government. A former United States Navy SEAL and a member of the Republican Party, he was elected to Congress in 2018 on a platform that called for getting the country on a path towards “responsible spending.” In his letter, the congressman emphasized the safeguards Congress put in the CARES Act to ensure the proper use of funds and said, “This bill included accountability measures, and it is important for every entity that receives public funding to live up to its obligations.”

The largest of three major bills from Congress to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the CARES Act provided $25 billion in relief funding for airlines to keep employees on the payroll.

Members of Congress like Crenshaw interact with airline employees during their frequent trips between their home districts and Washington, DC. He praised United employees in his letter and wrote, “You have kept our nation running, and it is uplifting to see the dedication on the frontlines.” The congressman pledged to “continue to focus on ensuring funds are spent as intended as the industry recovers and that safety measures are implemented to protect both workers and travelers.”

Do you live in the Houston area?

Lawmakers need to know that we appreciate their help. If you are a constituent of Congressman Dan Crenshaw, please take a second to let him know that our union values his assist.


What do YOU Think?

Lawmakers are calling on airlines to fulfill the obligations they made to taxpayers and employees like us. How would you rate the job your airline has done so far?


Aloha, Kaulana

Aloha, Kaulana

Sisters and Brothers,

With deep sadness, I share the news that our Brother Kaulana Pakele, who served as Safety Director for District 141 at Hawaiian Airlines, passed away last night. Kaulana was surfing on Memorial Day near Makaha Beach in Oahu, Hawaii, when he went into distress and was rescued from the water.

Kaulana embodied the spirit of Aloha in everything he did: He proudly honored his Hawaiian and Polynesian culture in his work as an award-winning musician, and also fiercely defended the safety of his Brothers and Sisters in the Machinists Union.

He was born and raised in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii, and was initiated into IAM Local 1979 in Honolulu in 2006 when he began working at Hawaiian Airlines. Kaulana was already an accomplished musician, and he took the job at the airline in part so he could enjoy traveling, as so many of us do. He became a Shop Steward and quickly took on positions of more responsibility, which led to his appointment as District 141 Safety Director for Hawaiian Airlines in 2016. He was a member of the contract negotiating committee for Hawaiian Airlines and also served on the IAMAW Joint Airline Transportation Safety Committee. 

We will miss Kaulana’s bright smile that would light up any room and his eagerness to liven up any gathering with his beautiful singing, but most of all we will miss our Brother whose dedication to the well-being and security of his brothers and sisters in our union is an inspiration to us all. 

We join Lisa, his wife for 23 years, his children, grandchildren, and his parents in their grief and ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers. We also share our loss with his friends and colleagues in the artistic community in Hawaii where he was beloved and admired. 

Aloha, dear Brother.

Mike Klemm

President and Directing General Chair, 
District 141,
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Our Union Remembers

Our Union Remembers

On Behalf of a Grateful Union

This Memorial Day, we remember with pride.

On this Memorial Day, we remember and honor all those who gave their lives in service to our country. Let us also extend our deepest gratitude for those women and men who lost their lives serving as first responders and essential, front-line workers.

It is fitting that we should celebrate this spirit of self-sacrifice and courage during this time of crisis. May we all learn from their example.”

Michael Klemm
President and Directing General Chair,
District 141,
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. 

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Machinists Union to Delta and JetBlue: You Are Not Above the Law

Machinists Union to Delta and JetBlue: You Are Not Above the Law

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2020 — The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today reiterated its demand that Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways restore workers’ pay and benefits. Delta and JetBlue combined have accepted approximately $6.5 billion under the CARES Act in taxpayer-funded airline bailout money intended to maintain workers’ jobs, pay and benefits until at least Sept. 30, 2020.
Earlier this month, the IAM filed a federal lawsuit against United Airlines after the carrier announced similar plans to reduce all full-time ground workers’ hours, which would have reduced their pay and benefits. United then reversed course and suspended its plan.
“Delta and JetBlue may not have reduced hourly pay rates, but they did reduce weekly, monthly and yearly pay rates, just as United tried to do,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “The undeniable result is workers are involuntarily taking home less money to support their families. A pay cut is a pay cut.”
Both Delta and JetBlue applied for and received taxpayer funds under the Payroll Support Program component of the CARES Act, which required airlines to maintain workers’ jobs, pay and benefits as a condition of taking the funds.
In letters to the CEOs of Delta and JetBlue, 13 Senators led by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote, “Your workers supported relief for airlines on the condition that their jobs, pay, and benefits would be protected. On April 23, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers wrote you a letter opposing your mandatory time off policy, and noting that, ‘The IAM, along with the all the other AFL-CIO affiliated transportation unions, and Delta JetBlue workers, fought for the federal stimulus to protect airline workers and save the airline industry from the ravages of the novel coronavirus pandemic,’ but that your company is ‘using that good faith support of airline workers around the country and at every carrier to [undermine the interest of your own workforces].’”
“We called on Delta and JetBlue to reverse course over three weeks ago and they have thumbed their noses at their employees, Congress, and American taxpayers,” continued Pantoja. “Delta and JetBlue are not above the law and should immediately restore their workers’ pay and benefits as required under the CARES Act.”
A Slow but Steady Airline Recovery is Happening

A Slow but Steady Airline Recovery is Happening

Shares of several airlines have seen a sharp increase in value over the past week, as more travelers begin a slow return, prompting carriers to add more routes and flights to their schedules. While overall demand remains at critical levels, we now have the first clear evidence that the airline industry is beginning to heal from the COVID pandemic. 

In March, Congress approved $50 Billion in aid to airlines, to preserve the highly-trained (and difficult to replace) commercial aviation workforce. Congress also hoped to protect the larger civil aviation networks that provide life-sustaining economic connections throughout the American economy. 

All major airlines have warned that absent another round of help from Congress, America will have a much smaller capacity for air transport and travel. Further, if the direst warnings coming from industry insiders are borne out, the American economy could lose more than a third of the entire civil aviation workforce in the space of just a few weeks starting in October.

Such a massive reduction in jobs would not only cripple any recovery this fall but would also have catastrophic ripple effects throughout the rest of the economy, as businesses that depend on airlines and air shipping lose access to critical parts of their business.

Last week, the industry got a few hopeful signs that air travel would return. United, American, and Delta are filling planes, and are considering adding back flights. Currently, airlines are only operating at certain times of the day, in schedules called “banks.” United and American have both reported that they are bringing back a few banks in select hubs that were stopped due to low demand. The latest round of inevitable social media outrage saw shocked Tweets revealing images of airplanes full of passengers. This may have horrified the Twittersphere, but it was cause for celebration for everyone that depends on air travel. Figuring out how to handle too many passengers is a good problem for airlines to have right now.

Along with passengers, investors are also starting to come back.

Shares of United Airlines Holdings Inc. were up 2% in premarket trading on Tuesday, extending a larger 21% rally for the week. The posting represents the largest gains since the COVID pandemic began hitting airlines two months ago.

United reported modest improvement and reduced cancellations during the second quarter, improvements that the company expects to continue through July.

American Airlines experienced a brief 9.2% surge last week, led by upbeat new data from TSA that indicates an increase in travel demand. That report detailed an uptick in passengers overall, showing an average of 205,010 passengers a day going through TSA security checkpoints. This is the fourth straight week that the agency reported an increase.

Overall air traffic is down more than 91% from last year, according to the TSA reports.

The largest transportation and aerospace union in the US is the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which includes tens of thousands of airline personnel. IAMAW District President Mike Klemm warned the 38,000 members of District 141 that investor support and passenger demand might not return fast enough to prevent job losses in October.

To be perfectly clear, if demand for air travel does not rebound before September 30, 2020, there likely will be furloughs at every single US-based airline,” Klemm said while promising that the union would prevent involuntary furloughs that violate union contracts and the terms of the CARES Act. IAMAW ramp and customer service workers successfully fought back a plan by United to force furloughs after accepting $5 billion in taxpayer money intended to prevent job losses. 

The union is also proposing several cost-cutting measures to United, including ways to incentivize early retirement through medical bridges. These voluntary measures, along with increased demand for air travel, are welcome signs. 

However, IAMAW District Legislative Director Dave Roderick is also suggesting that the union stay in constant contact with lawmakers. “We need to stay in the conversation,” Roderick said. “We need to make sure that our members of Congress understand the facts from the union perspective, which is the side that clocks in and out every day to put food on the table. We can’t afford to be passive at this moment. We need to stay engaged, and do whatever we can to impress on lawmakers the importance of passing another assistance package before October,” Roderick said.


The Time to Prepare is Now

The Time to Prepare is Now

May 19, 2020

This communication will discuss continuing developments at United Airlines, however, I urge all District Lodge 141 members to read this update. 

Regrettably, United Airlines and District 141 have disagreed vehemently on how to handle the steep decline in demand for air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. On May 1, 2020, United Airlines announced an involuntary furlough of approximately 14,000 full-time fleet service and customer service employees, which would have caused a pay and benefits cut, and also multiple violations of our contracts.

As you know, United management reversed course after DL 141 filed a lawsuit in federal court affirming that the forced reductions were both a violation of the CARES Act and our collective bargaining agreements. I want to be crystal clear: The May 1st Greg Hart and Kate Gebo plan to involuntarily furlough every full-time employee to part-time WAS NOT allowable under our collective bargaining agreements. And, it WILL NOT be allowable at any future date. If Mr. Hart and Ms. Gebo attempt this ill-advised action again, you can count on IAMAW District 141 to fight it with every available resource our union possesses.

Over the past couple of weeks, United has resorted to coordinated scare tactics and misinformation to get as many IAM-represented workers as possible to take a voluntary COLA. I informed United management numerous times to stop threatening IAM members with illegal and non-contractual involuntary furloughs. Finally, last week at a virtual town hall, SVP of Airport Operations, Jon Roitman, stated there will be no involuntary furloughs through September 30, 2020. We’ve said all along that this is something United management could not do. 

We fully understand that we need our carriers to be successful for everyone to maintain their ability to put a roof over their head and food on their families’ table. District 141 stands ready to engage with United to develop voluntary programs to achieve cost savings and to put together a long-term plan that benefits employees and our airline. Since our lawsuit was withdrawn, United management has not engaged with District 141. United management should understand that by working with us, we can devise creative ways to help the carrier and, at the same time, care for United employees who have turned this airline around and who are bravely serving our country every single day by providing essential services.

To be perfectly clear, if demand for air travel does not rebound before September 30, 2020, there likely will be furloughs at every single US-based airline. 

The number of laid-off employees will be determined by the demand for air travel, and also by the level of participation in voluntary COLA and other separation programs. I sincerely ask that you prepare for a potential furlough in October. Please hold off on buying any new big-ticket items, such as a car or house. I hope you will take every step you can to help save money for yourself and your family. It is very rare to have five to six months to prepare for a furlough, so I hope everyone will use this time to take the necessary precautionary steps.

Please know that the IAM is fully behind you and we will do everything possible to defend ALL IAM members and our families at our airlines during this time.

God bless and stay safe, 

Mike Klemm

President and Directing General Chair,
District 141,
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers




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