Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that is threatening the existence of our nation’s airlines, opportunist politicians and so-called labor leaders are threatening the federal aid that US airline workers need to remain employed and US carriers need to continue operations and survive this crisis.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-IL), Edward Markey (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), misguidedly, demanded in a letter to Senate leadership that as a condition to receive federal aid that the airlines must address shrinking seat size, denied boardings, mishandled bags, change fees, and other politically-motivated requirements. Senator Whitehouse even went so far to demand carriers reduce carbon emissions. These demands will only delay the delivery of much needed financial aid to the industry.
Even the leadership of one of the unions representing flight attendants engaged in this dangerous political rhetoric by demanding that anti-union airlines be denied federal aid.
These irresponsible demands would effectively deny aid for the airline industry entirely. Virtually every carrier in the industry has fought their employees’ attempts to unionize in recent years.
The IAM believes that every worker should be free to form a union and that any federal aid should be aimed at supporting workers. We also believe every US airline requires financial aid to survive, including those airlines that have many non-union employees. No worker should be left behind.
Should we fight against federal aid for hundreds of thousands of airline workers and put them out of work to resolve issues that have absolutely nothing to do with this present crisis? The answer is absolutely NO!
Important but ultimately unrelated issues can be taken up separately once the industry is stabilized and workers’ livelihoods secured. Hundreds of thousands of good airline jobs depend upon federal aid getting to the carriers, and quickly.
Denying critical aide to an airline for any reason punishes those airline’s workers more than the carrier itself. It forces the carrier to extract more relief from its employees, the very people who cannot afford it.
In an emergency, first responders don’t only help people who share their beliefs, they help everyone in need. We can’t ignore any airline’s employees at this critical time.
The IAM calls on all airline workers to contact their elected officials and demand the airlines receive direct federal aid. This aid needs to keep airline workers employed and ensure the airlines maintain collective bargaining agreements. We need to focus on keeping airline workers employed and our airlines operating. We do not need to use this crisis to further the narrow, short-sighted political interests of some.
Now is the time for action, not rhetoric. The airline industry and its employees need true leadership at this time, not showmanship.
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