Congressional leadership has produced a historic $2 trillion stimulus bill that provides significant relief to aviation workers. The 96 Senators who were present for the vote supported the legislation unanimously; it was voted into law by the House of Representatives earlier today and is expected to be signed into law by the President.
I’d like to extend my deepest thanks to all of those who have contacted members of Congress regarding this legislation. Your rapid mobilization this week to communicate our needs to elected officials in Washington made the difference for every pilot, mechanic, attendant and every other worker in the airline industry. Thanks to you, we live to fight another day.
The stimulus bill contains $61 billion for the airline industry, including $32 billion in grants and $29 billion of loans, plus $10 billion in grants for airports. Once it becomes law, the legislation will help maintain our aviation infrastructure and protect our jobs for the next six months as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than passing a carte-blanche handout to executives and shareholders, Congress placed a number of pro-worker conditions on the extension of federal funds, including the following guarantees:
• $32 billion in aviation grants are statutorily required to be used on workers. Any airline receiving grants from the federal government must use these funds exclusively on worker wages and benefits. This will allow carriers and other companies to their payroll in the immediate future and prevent any new furloughs or layoffs.
• Any airline or aviation company receiving grant funding cannot conduct involuntary furloughs or reduce pay rates and benefits from the time they receive the grant through September 30, 2020.
• Recipients cannot engage in stock buybacks or pay dividends until September 30, 2021.
• The federal government cannot condition any grants or loans on the renegotiation of collective bargaining agreements in order to reduce employee pay or benefits. For grants, this protection is in effect through September 30, 2020. For loans, this protection is in effect until one year after the loan is paid.
• Grant recipients cannot increase the pay or severance of high-paid executives ($425,000+) for a two-year period beginning on March 24, 2020. This does not apply to any worker in a bargaining unit.
• Within 5 days of passage, the government will create a process by which carriers can apply for grants and must begin doling out money within ten days.
• Companies may defer contributions to single-employer pension plans until January 1, 2021 but are still responsible for making any and all contributions that have already been negotiated. Employers must also pay interest on deferred contributions.
Thank you again for your hard work, perseverance, and solidarity during what is an extremely trying and uncertain time. In spite of the challenges being thrown our way, we are rising above and demonstrating our collective power. This crisis is far from over, but if we continue to advocate tirelessly both for ourselves and for one another, we shall persevere.
With Highest Regards,
Capt. David Bourne
Director, Teamsters Airline Division