PSP Is The #WorkersFirst Plan for Today and Tomorrow

Dear Flying Partners:

We won’t bury the lead —everything is on track in the legislative process to again secure all of the protections of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) April 1, 2021-September 30, 2021. There’s no doubt we are all feeling the emotional toil of the chaos and uncertainty from July-December 2020, but we are now in an organized, step-by-step legislative process for the American Rescue Plan that has a deadline of March 14th, due to expiring unemployment benefits. President Biden has made this legislation the top priority of his administration. A detail of the legislative process is included immediately following this letter.

PSP is for everyone in our airline industry - every worker at every airline. It was designed to ensure this crisis - the biggest our industry has faced in all of its 100 years even if you combine all other crises together - doesn’t fall on the backs of workers. Airlines are still losing up to 30 million dollars a day, and surviving on cash secured after the CARES Act was passed last March. Remember that “cash” is not profit and in this case it is debt that has to be repaid. We know all too well what happens when “the market” determines our value, when bankruptcies give companies the power to have the court force deep job cuts and contract concessions while awarding massive bonuses to the executives and the bottom feeder investors who profit from our pain. In March 2020, we built the Payroll Support Program as an immediate relief and protection for us as workers. But we also had an eye to our future. PSP ensures workers and airlines can get through this pandemic without threat of bankruptcy or years of cost cutting rather than revenue generation and growth that is the basis for us to maintain and improve our careers.

Our Payroll Support Program also supports all of us because it keeps all of our benefits intact and ensures we are continuing to contribute to our communities and our future - we pay taxes that support local and state services like schools, mass transit and sanitation, continue our contributions to Social Security and other programs we count on for our health and retirement, and we are in place and ready to lift our economy once the pandemic is under control or eradicated. Our jobs support 1 in 14 jobs in the country, and conversely we count on good jobs in other industries too so that people have the means to buy airline tickets.

PSP provides the financial support to help us fight the virus. The pandemic is the problem and our safety is the priority. Stabilizing people and our airlines financially also allows us to focus on our safety and good public health plans. We now have a federal mask mandate in transportation that’s backed up with federal fines and other repercussions should anyone refuse to comply in an airport or on the plane. We continue to press all of our airlines to notify crews immediately and provide paid quarantine when exposure and contact is confirmed. Our airlines must continue to and/or reinstate reduced meal and beverage service to reduce contact on our planes, and provide us with proper PPE. The HEPA filtration, where it exists on our planes, must run in the air and on the ground - and cleaning and disinfection must be conducted at the highest standards. We continue to work with our airlines on these issues, but we also now are getting an administration in place that is engaging on these issues too.

Our top priority is access to the vaccines for Flight Attendants and all aviation workers. Priority for crew in every state is key, but a federal program for vaccination clinics at airports is the best plan to make this accessible to the people on the front lines. We testified to this in Congress last week. We are in regular communication with the FAA, CDC, other administration officials overseeing COVID response, and in another direct conversation I had with Secretary Buttigieg just last night. 

The American Rescue Plan will provide $1.9 trillion in relief for Americans, including $15 billion for aviation Payroll Support. The plan supports the infrastructure needed to crush the virus and shore up Americans who are hurting. Our #WorkersFirst PSP includes all of the key protections it did before to ensure we don’t bear the short term or long term brunt of the crisis: no involuntary furloughs, no reductions to hourly pay rates, continued service to all of our communities, a cap on executive compensation for two years beyond the relief, and a ban on stock buybacks and dividends for a year beyond the relief. This keeps the focus on us now and for the immediate years to come. This program not only saves jobs, it makes the foundation for all of our jobs at every airline better. During times of extreme cost-cutting, we always experience airlines driving high productivity that means fewer people do all the work. PSP avoids this and maintains flexibility for Flight Attendants.

Although every industry should have a PSP, not every industry has the high union density that made it happen. This is our union plan built on experience and our promise - Never Forget, Never Again. We had the power to make that reality and that power resides in you, in all of us together. We can’t ever take what we have for granted and we have to keep taking action to secure it today and tomorrow. We are highly confident PSP will be extended through September, but until the American Rescue Plan is law we need to keep speaking up for it. The more action we take together the more our power grows - and that is how we get results that matter.

We are Stronger Together and Better Together. Thank you for all you do every day and stay safe!

In Solidarity,

Sara Nelson
AFA-CWA International President