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Aviation Unions Seek Additional Stimulus Funds

Seven aviation unions have joined forces to lobby Congress for another $15 billion in stimulus funding to avoid what they say will lead to “wide-scale layoffs” when current protection funding runs out next month.

In a letter written by the coalition of union leaders and sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), along with other Congressional leaders, the unions – representing pilots, flight attendants and other workers – said, “Without these actions, wide-scale layoffs in the industry will begin as early as March 31st.”

The aviation industry received $25 billion in March of 2020 with the initial stimulus package, known as the CARES Act.  In exchange for accepting grants and loans, the airlines would not furlough any workers until Sept. 30; when that date arrived, there were mass layoffs.

Although the airlines hired back many of those employees in December of 2020 when Congress passed a second relief bill that provided $15 billion, the same stipulation on not laying off employees was put in place.  That provision expires March 31.  (United Airlines has already announced that 14,000 of its employees could be laid off on April 1.)  The unions are hoping another $15 billion will extend the Payroll Support Program (PSP) through September 30.

"With vaccination in its early stages, this is a critical moment for the country and the industry,” the letter said.  “The continuation of PSP will ensure that we emerge from the pandemic in the strongest possible position and ready to get America moving."