December 21, 2020
We did it! On the shortest day of the year, we achieved what many thought was the longest shot in Washington. The House of Representatives just voted with 359-53 to approve 4 month emergency relief, including an extension to our Payroll Support Program through March 31, 2020. The Senate is expected to pass the bill later tonight. Extending the Payroll Support Program helps every Flight Attendant and aviation worker no matter your current status. It gives us a solid foundation to fight forward in the New Year.
This wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible solidarity of Flight Attendants, our entire union, and industry. AFA Flight Attendants made over 43,000 calls, sent nearly 100,000 letters, and held 32 #ReliefNow events in 24 cities driving more than a thousand stories – from national networks to local TV and radio, documentaries, digital and print – on our demands for relief for all working Americans. PSP is a #WorkersFirst relief program and demonstrates why it’s so important that unions continue to fight for a recovery that puts real people first. Our efforts won desperately needed emergency relief for tens of millions of Americans.
Aviation is safe when we fly with the spirit that ‘we’re all in this together.’ Our AFA Government Affairs activists never stopped fighting and were joined by thousands of new Flight Attendant activists who got involved in our union to make this possible. While we are getting everyone back on payroll, connected to healthcare and help to the whole country, this is just a downpayment on what’s needed for recovery. We need everyone ready to fight forward.
Know that you made a difference for yourself, your flying partners, and your communities.
The full bill includes $15 Billion for our Payroll Support Program (PSP), along with other provisions for Flight Attendants and our families:
- Recalls everyone with no interruption to seniority – all rights and protections from Oct 1 as if never furloughed.
- Ensures pay and benefits December 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021 with no furloughs, no reduction to hourly rates.
- Restores service to communities and supports vaccine distribution.
- Extends the cap on executive compensation and ban on stock buybacks.
- $600 direct payment to Americans who earned up to $75,000 in 2019 ($1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 in 2019). $600 per child with no cap on # of children/dependents.
- The size of the benefit would be reduced for those earning more than $75,000, or $150,000 per married couple. The amount will decrease by $5 for every $100 of income above those thresholds, phasing out entirely at $87,000 for individuals and $174,000 for couples.
- Unemployment Insurance is $300 a week on top of state UI levels.
- 11 weeks of UI extended for the long-term unemployed
- There is much more in the full bill including banning evictions, aid for our schools and public services and support for mass transit. Much more will be needed for a full recovery in the New Year.
As AFA leaders at each airline – Master Executive Councils (MECs) – work with our airlines to get Flight Attendants back on the line, recognize that this process is unprecedented and we will need to work through logistics and issues together. Most contracts do not and could not have contemplated this scenario, which is why we told Congress this should have been done in August. Stay closely tuned to union communications specifically from your MECs and locals, and make sure your contact information is up to date with AFA and your airline.
This would not have been possible without extraordinary champions in Chairman Peter DeFazio and Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS), along with Ranking Members Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Representative Sam Graves (R-MO), who reflected the near unanimous bipartisan support for continuing our jobs and infrastructure program. These leaders and their staff never gave up on aviation workers. Now airlines can return people to work and get them paid as we put the pieces back together with training required for recertification and security clearance.
We are still in the middle of the worst crisis this country has faced in 100 years with 195,00 cases, and 1,618 deaths recorded yesterday. At the same time, TSA screened 1,064,629 people at airport checkpoints nationwide yesterday, Sunday, Dec. 20. It was the third consecutive day that checkpoint volume surpassed 1 million since the pandemic began.
Our industry cannot begin to fully recover until we get the pandemic under control. AFA has worked with airlines over the last nine months to establish COVID-19 operational policies and procedures due to the federal government’s inaction. With cases high across the country, now is not the time to let our guard down. Read our latest Operational COVID-19 Recommendations >
We are also advocating as part of an industry coalition to have airline workers prioritized in the vaccine distribution. This week, the coalition sent letters to all 50 state governors. Here’s an example of the letter >
There will be much more to communicate in the coming days. Today, PSP is finally extended. Stand strong together, always.
AFA International President