Last week, a group of lawmakers in the House Transportation Committee began circulating a letter asking members of Congress to publicly support a plan that would save hundreds of thousands of airline jobs this fall. 

The letter calls for an extension of the Payroll Support Program, which requires airlines to agree not to layoff or furlough workers in exchange for taxpayer funding to cover payroll costs. If extended, airlines would be forbidden from cutting their workforces en masse until the extension expires. The extension, if approved by Congress, is expected to remain in effect until March 2021. The current program is due to expire on October 1. Major airlines such as United and American are promising to furlough and layoff more than 60,000 employees within hours of the expiration.

The House and Senate must both approve the extension, which would be included as part of a second stimulus bill.

Extending the assistance to airline workers does not seem to be finding much opposition so far, with both Republican and Democratic members willing to endorse the provision. Keeping the US aviation workforce intact is critical to our national infrastructure; aviation workers are highly skilled and must undergo near-constant training in order to safely maintain, load and move passenger aircraft. According to the letter, the magnitude of furloughs and terminations that will happen this fall are of a “magnitude (that would) eclipse those of any furloughs the industry has ever seen.” Without these workers, the United States could lose every competitive advantage it has as airlines try to rebuild civil aviation with an inexperienced and largely untested future workforce.

“Union members can help get this extension passed, but we have to act in large numbers,” said Legislative Director Dave Roderick. Roderick leads the Machinists Non-Partisan Political League for District 141 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, a group that is dedicated to advancing public policy that benefits airline workers and passengers. According to Roderick, the House Transportation Committee is clearly behind an extension of the Payroll Support Program. “We need to help them circulate this letter and win the support of more members of Congress. We can do that right now, and make sure that we remain at the table while these decisions are being made,” Roderick said.

“Otherwise,” he warned, “they will be making decisions about us, without us.”

Roderick has clear advice for any union member who is concerned about furloughs this fall; get comfortable with contacting your member of congress. “This has to become second nature for us,” he said. “It looks like we are going to need to make Congressional action a part of our culture.”

As for pushing for the extension of the Payroll Support Program and possibly preventing thousands of furloughs at airlines this fall, Roderick has a simple process.  “First, look up your member of Congress at House.Gov. Next, contact your representative and copy and paste the letter from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from the bottom of this page into your message. Step three, follow up.”

According to Roderick, the momentum is with airline workers at the moment, and an extension of the Payroll Support Program is not impossible. “Thousands of us are targetted for furloughs,” he said. “Therefore, tens of thousands of us should be writing to our representatives.”

Send the Letter Below to Your Member of Congress

Note: Most members of Congress do not allow emailed PDF files to be sent into their official mailboxes. Therefore, it may be necessary to copy and paste the text of the House Transportation Committee Letter into their email form.

They also rarely accept messages from non-constituents. If you need to look up your representative, you can do so at House.Gov, or by clicking the link above.

JOIN LETTER URGING LEADERSHIP TO EXTEND PAYROLL SUPPORT PROGRAM GRANTS AND SAVE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF AIRLINE JOBS

Dear Colleague:

We write to urge you to join the letter below to House and Senate Leadership urging an

extension of a vital worker relief program that will keep airline workers employed through next year as the airline industry and our larger economy continue to be ravaged by the insidious pandemic of COVID-19.

 

In March, as U.S. COVID-19 cases began rising exponentially, Congress rose to the occasion by enacting the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136) to provide assistance to tens of millions of Americans who found their financial security, if not their health, directly imperiled by the pandemic. Among other things, the CARES Act created the novel Payroll Support Program (PSP), under which the Treasury Secretary issued $32 billion in grants to airlines and their contractors exclusively to keep their workers on the payroll through September 30, 2020. These grants—essentially payments to workers, passed through their employers—have kept nearly 1 million airline industry workers on the payroll and off unemployment lines.

 

But while time marches on, so does the pandemic, with hardly any green shoots sprouting for the airlines as they continue to face the worst crisis by far in the industry’s history. Last Wednesday, a major airline put 36,000 workers across the country on notice that they could be furloughed on or after October 1. Other carriers have issued and will issue similar notices.

 

In anticipation of negotiations with the Senate on COVID-19 relief legislation, an extension of the extremely successful PSP, which saved nearly 1 million jobs, must be on the table. Of the many worker-programs included in the CARES Act that will be debated in the weeks ahead, the PSP has arguably been the most effective. The PSP is a jobs program. Its direct payroll pass- through saved hundreds of thousands of aviation jobs—and not a penny went to enrich the airlines themselves or their shareholders. Even Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has commented on the how the PSP has been “critical to supporting American workers and preserving our airline industry.” According to Secretary Mnuchin’s own calculations, taxpayers realized a 70 percent return just from payroll and income tax receipts and reduced unemployment insurance payments. Other sizable government savings, made possible by keeping tens of thousands of airline workers employed, include those to Medicaid and state unemployment programs.

 

When we passed the CARES Act in March, there was an expectation that we would see a significant recovery in U.S. aviation by the fall. This is no longer the case. With the current resurgence of COVID-19 in several States across the country and a vaccine for the virus yet to be developed, passenger demand for air travel will not recover before the PSP expires on September

30. And without an extension of the PSP before then, hundreds of thousands of airline workers may be fired or furloughed starting October 1. We must extend the PSP as soon as possible.

 

Please join us in sending a letter to House and Senate Leadership urging them to extend the PSP authorities in the CARES Act through March 31, 2021, and save hundreds of thousands of frontline airline workers’ jobs. See the text of the sign-on letter below.

 

If you wish to sign on, please contact Cheniqua bern with the Subcommittee on Aviation by July 21, 2020, at Cheniqua.Johnson@mail.house.gov.

 

  Sincerely,  

/s/

PETER A. DeFAZIO

Chair, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

 

/s/

RICK LARSEN

Chair, Subcommittee on Aviation

/s/

SHARICE L. DAVIDS

Vice Chair, Subcommittee on Aviation

 

/s/

RODNEY DAVIS

Member of Congress

/s/

KAREN BASS

Member of Congress

 

/s/

JOHN KATKO

Member of Congress

/s/

BRIAN FITZPATRICK

Member of Congress

   

 

  * * * * *  
 

 

July , 2020

 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi Speaker

United States House of Representatives

U.S. Capitol, H-232 Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell Majority Leader

United States Senate

U.S. Capitol, S-230 Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy Minority Leader

United States House of Representatives

U.S. Capitol, H-204 Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Charles Schumer Minority Leader

United States Senate

U.S. Capitol, S-221 Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer:

 

As you enter into negotiations regarding legislation to further address the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we write to urge you to extend the extremely successful Payroll Support Program (PSP) included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136), which saved the jobs of 950,000 of frontline airline industry workers such as mechanics, baggage handlers, gate agents, catering workers, flight attendants, and pilots, among others. Roughly 750,000 of these women and men work directly for airlines, and at least 200,000 work for airline contractors and clean cabins, prepare meals, and handle baggage, among other things.

 

The PSP—a novel program in which the government effectively passes paychecks to airline industry workers through their employers—will keep workers on the payrolls and off unemployment lines through September 30, 2020. But while time marches on, so does the pandemic, with hardly any green shoots sprouting for the airlines as they continue to face the worst crisis by far in the industry’s history. Last Wednesday, a major airline put 36,000 workers across the country on notice that they could be furloughed on or after October 1. Other carriers have issued and will issue similar notices.

 

According to the most recent airline traffic data, U.S. air carriers reported a 96 percent drop in passenger traffic for April 2020 over April 2019.1 And so far in July, total traveler throughput at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints dropped by, on average, more than 70 percent compared to the same period in 2019.2 Without further relief from Congress, mass layoffs among airline industry workers are inevitable—and their magnitude will eclipse those of any furloughs the industry has ever seen.

 

1  Dep’t of Transp., Bureau of Transp. Stats., “Preliminary Air Traffic Data, April 2020: 96% Reduction in U.S. Airline Passengers from 2019,” at https://www.bts.gov/newsroom/preliminary-air-traffic-data-april-2020-96-reduction-us- airlinepassengers-2019.

2  See TSA, TSA Checkpoint Travel Numbers for 2020 and 2019, https://www.tsa.gov/coronavirus/passenger- throughput.

The PSP’s payroll pass-through saved hundreds of thousands of frontline airline workers’ jobs—and not a penny went to the airlines themselves or their shareholders. According to Secretary Mnuchin’s own calculations, taxpayers realized a 70 percent return just from payroll and income tax receipts and reduced unemployment insurance payments. Other sizable government savings, made possible by keeping tens of thousands of airline workers employed, include those to Medicaid and state unemployment programs.

 

With the resurgence of COVID-19 in several States across the country and a vaccine for the virus yet to be developed, passenger demand for air travel will not recover before the PSP expires on September 30. And without an extension of the PSP before then, hundreds of thousands of airline workers will be fired or furloughed on October 1. To save nearly one million airline industry jobs, we must extend the PSP through March 31, 2021.

 

Thank you for your attention to this extremely important matter that will save jobs and ensure the U.S. airline system remains viable as a national security asset and engine of economic recovery once the pandemic is finally behind us.

 

Sincerely,

 

/s/ /s/

PETER A. DeFAZIO RICK LARSEN

Chair, Committee on Transportation Chair, Subcommittee on Aviation and Infrastructure

 

/s/ /s/

SHARICE L. DAVIDS RODNEY DAVIS

Vice Chair, Subcommittee on Aviation Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

KAREN BASS JOHN KATKO

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

BRIAN FITZPATRICK ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

THOMAS SUOZZI JAN SCHAKOWSKY

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

DAVID CICILLINE BILL PASCRELL

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

NANETTE DIAZ BARRAGÁN SUSAN WILD

Member of Congress Member of Congress

/s/ /s/

ED PERLMUTTER CHRIS PAPPAS

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

ALAN LOWENTHAL MARK TAKANO

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

JULIA BROWNLEY DONALD PAYNE, JR.

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

RON KIND SANFORD BISHOP, JR.

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

JARED HUFFMAN MAX ROSE

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

DON BACON KATHERINE CLARK

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

JESÚS G. “CHUY” GARCÍA DAVID B. MCKINLEY, P.E.

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

STEVE COHEN STEPHANIE MURPHY

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

TERRI A. SEWELL BRIAN HIGGINS

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

GRACE F. NAPOLITANO ED CASE

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

ADAM SMITH ADRIANO ESPAILLAT

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

VAL B. DEMINGS SALUD O. CARBAJAL

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

SUZANNE BONAMICI DONNA E. SHALALA

Member of Congress Member of Congress

/s/ /s/

AYANNA PRESSLEY JOHN GARAMENDI

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

ANTHONY BROWN STEPHEN F. LYNCH

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

GIBERT R. CISNEROS, JR. EARL BLUMENAUER

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

DENNY HECK MARCY KAPTUR

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

DONALD NORCROSS JAHANA HAYES

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

TOM O’HALLERAN YVETTE D. CLARKE

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

LLOYD DOGGETT JEFF VAN DREW

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

ELIOT ENGEL JAMES P. MCGOVERN

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

DANIEL W. LIPINKSI CONOR LAMB

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

MATT CARTWRIGHT RASHIDA TLAIB

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

JOYCE BEATTY DAVID PRICE

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

DONALD S. BEYER, JR. RUBEN GALLEGO

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

ALMA S. ADAMS, PH.D. DANIEL T. KILDEE

Member of Congress Member of Congress

/s/ /s/

DEREK KILMER BRENDAN F. BOYLE

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

PETER T. KING MIKE BOST

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON TOM REED

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

LUCY MCBATH PRAMILA JAYAPAL

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

HALEY M. STEVENS DAVID ROUZER

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

CINDY AXNE SCOTT PETERS

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

DANA TITUS MIKE QUIGLEY

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/ /s/

MARC VEASEY PETE STAUBER

Member of Congress Member of Congress

 

/s/

SUBRAMANIAN R. KRISHNAMOORTHI

Member of Congress