July 23, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Our industry remains in crisis. The damage being caused by the coronavirus has not abated, and in many parts of the country the pandemic has only worsened. Air service remains crippled, with a majority of flights grounded for the foreseeable future.
The IBT Airline Division has been working since the day Congress passed the CARES Act to make sure that the federal government will continue to provide strong and lasting relief to our members. The most important part of this effort is to ensure that the hard-fought wins and tens of billions of dollars which Congress extended to the industry and its workers this spring are not allowed to expire at the end of September without additional funds being made available to ensure our members are kept on payroll.
We have joined arms with our brothers and sisters across aviation labor to call on Congress to pass a direct extension of this program. This program, known as the Payroll Support Program (PSP) granted billions of dollars in relief to airlines with the core requirement that the money be spent to retain its workforce, including paying all workers at current pay rates with full benefits.
We have been lobbying Members of Congress on Capitol Hill to reach out to their colleagues in order to help create the urgency needed to get an extension of this program across the finish line. We are urging that this payroll support program be extended until March 31, 2021. A new stimulus bill is expected to be taken up by Congress, and hopefully passed, before the Congressional recess in August. We have known for some time that this pandemic was here for the long run, elected leaders in Washington DC need to recognize the same and take swift action to protect our jobs.
The Division has also pushed for a number of other provisions which would increase safety on the job while also helping to stabilize the short-term finances of the industry. We have strongly supported the SEATS Act which would help make inflight social distancing a reality. This bill would allow the government to directly purchase empty seats on flights, allowing for greater separation between passengers and crew while also limiting industry losses until the economy stabilizes and normal travel resumes.
We have supported the national extension of hazard pay to airline employees as well as ten weeks paid family leave if your family member contracts coronavirus. We have pushed for comprehensive safety legislation for anyone still on the job, including mandates that facemasks be worn by passengers and crews during boarding and while in the air, and requirements that airlines regularly clean, disinfect, and sanitize all equipment and facilities in accordance with CDC guidance. We have supported efforts to ensure that airline workers receive priority COVID-19 testing, and that airlines be required to provided personal protective equipment (PPE) on the job. Your union has even encouraged the use of the Defense Production Act, which would force certain manufacturers to start producing PPE instead of their normal goods so that no airline can claim that this PPE is not available.
While these fights are far from over, your union will continue to support you throughout these trying times. If you have any questions about the Division’s efforts or how to help, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We look forward to continuing to stand side by side with you and fighting to protect your work.
David P. Bourne
Director, Teamsters Airline Division
For a hard copy of this letter, click on the .pdf below.