To All Of My Fellow Teamster Members In The Airline Industry:
Our country is currently gripped by a pandemic the likes of which nobody has ever seen in our lifetimes, causing our entire society to be at a standstill. The crisis caused by the Coronavirus (COVID – 19) is one that promises to have a pronounced impact throughout all sectors of the economy, but particularly in the field of aviation. During this time most if not all of us in the industry are worried about what the future holds, so with that in mind I’d like to provide you with some information regarding what our union has been doing to ensure that our interests are protected in any legislation that is being or has been drafted to address the impact of COVID – 19:
The Federal government’s response is extremely fluid at this point and some of it is moving very quickly, but we are fully engaged with decision-makers and coalition allies to make sure the needs of Teamster families are addressed. We have both proactively reached out to and been contacted by Congressional leadership in the Senate and the committees tasked with writing the next iteration of assistance packages. Our union has offered initial suggestions with the guidance of the Airline Division, the guidance of the other IBT Division Directors and the IBT Safety and Health Department.
At this point two pieces of legislation have been passed by Congress to address the pandemic. The first is an emergency supplemental funding bill which the President signed on March 2. The second is a more comprehensive economic stimulus and support package called The Families First Coronavirus Response Act - H.R. 6201. The emergency supplemental bill included $8.3 billion in total funding, mostly geared towards addressing immediate public health concerns and loans to affected small businesses. The Families First Act strengthens unemployment insurance with $1 billion in emergency grants to states for processing and paying unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. It also requires states to take steps to temporarily ease eligibility requirements that might be limiting access to UI during the COVID-19 outbreak. A third and more comprehensive support package is already in the works and there will also be legislation to provide direct assistance to hard hit industries and financial markets.
We have been told that the White House is working with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on an $850 billion stimulus that will include significant support for the airline industry at a minimum, but likely other hard-hit industries as well. Our understanding is that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D – NY) is already in negotiations on this with the White House, and our union’s legislative staff has conveyed to Senator Schumer’s office where the airline industry and other Teamster-represented industries require relief. We are pushing for assistance whether it be in this package or another anticipated bill. In all of our legislative efforts the Teamsters have conveyed to lawmakers and the White House that it is imperative for any and all economic relief to address the needs of workers before addressing the needs of executives and shareholders.
In the Airline Division’s conversations with our employers, they have told us that they have also been in contact with lawmakers, and they are optimistic that the legislation passed by congress will address the most significant impacts of COVID – 19. They have also expressed their belief that any revenue shortfalls our companies experience will be much more short-lived compared to the economic downturns that the airline industry has experienced in the recent past.
The Federal Government’s response is constantly evolving and moving quickly, but we are doing everything we can to convey our union’s needs to elected officials. That being said, members of Congress need to hear from you; please take one minute to send them a message at this link so they know that lawmakers need to pass an airline relief package that puts people first.
I want everyone to know that were doing everything we can to shape these relief bills to make sure that they help Teamster families. We’ve been through challenging times in the past, and I’m confident that with the continued strength and unity of Teamster Power, we will weather this storm as well.
Capt. David Bourne
Director, Teamsters Airline Division