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IAM Delta Flight Attendants

Happy Independence Day

This weekend Americans proudly celebrate our independence and ability to self-govern. We must also acknowledge that not every American is able to enjoy our freedoms equally. Our country has come a long way since 1776, but there is clearly much work to be done before everyone in this country truly has the same protections and freedom regardless of how they look, what they believe, or who they love.

We cannot forget that with our freedom comes great responsibility, both collectively and individually. While we have tremendous freedoms, there are limits. For example, we do not have the freedom to hurt innocent people. More specifically, we do not have the right to infect others with a deadly disease. When something as simple as wearing a mask over our mouth and nose and respecting social distancing guidelines becomes a political statement, we are not acting responsibly. We are acting selfishly.

Science shows that if everyone wears masks in public and adheres to social distance guidelines the spread of this disease will be dramatically reduced. It will save lives. Failure to act responsibly, however, has allowed this virus to explode to record numbers in the United States.  Though much of the world is containing the COVID virus and is gradually returning to normal, we are the global example of how NOT to handle a pandemic.

The United States still does not have a uniform nationwide response to the COVID crisis, and the world has noticed. The European Union is reopening its borders, but not to Americans because we are not properly defending ourselves against the COVID virus. We are considered a threat, and Europe does not want our failure to spread to their continent. We are also not permitted to travel to Canada, and within our own borders some states require people travelling from other states to quarantine. The lack of an effective pandemic response is hampering the industry’s recovery and will lead directly to the loss of air and rail industry jobs.

The COVID-19 virus has already cost millions of jobs around the country, but if we cannot contain it we will lose countless more. We are all responsible for our own safety and the safety of those we work with.

Never before has how we behave in our personal lives affected our job security so much.

We know how to restart the economy and resurrect the transportation industry. If we choose to ignore science and politicize safe, responsible actions, we are hurting our chances for a quick economic recovery.  While we wait for a vaccine, the immediate response is simple:

Wear a mask, or shut down the economy again;
Wear a mask, or ground the airlines and suspend rail service;
Wear a mask, or keep local businesses closed;
Wear a mask, or continue spreading the virus and killing others;

Those who refuse to wear a mask are stating publicly that they do not care if they infect others with a deadly disease. That type of self-serving action undermines the free, responsible society that we celebrate this weekend. That level of selfishness is killing people.

As we commemorate our independence we must always honor the brave women and men in our armed forces who fought, and continue to fight, to keep us safe. Considering all the heroes lives that have been sacrificed over the last 244 years so that we can enjoy our freedom today, it really isn’t too much of a personal sacrifice to wear a piece of cloth on our face when we are out in public for the next few months.

I hope you and your families enjoy your Independence Day celebration, stay safe and, just as important, keep others safe.

Sito Pantoja
General Vice President

IAM Thanks Flight Attendants on International Cabin Crew Day

Today is International Cabin Crew Day, the first ever designated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). On behalf of the entire Machinists Union, I offer a sincere thank you to all IAM-represented Flight Attendants and Flight Attendants around the world for all you do to keep us safe when we fly.

Like many customer facing airline employees, Flight Attendants see passengers at their best and their worst. Whether passengers are traveling on a long-awaited vacation or to say goodbye to a beloved family member, Flight Attendants handle every situation at 30,000 feet and are always the face of professionalism and caring.

During the current global pandemic, Flight Attendants have been on the front lines reuniting families and helping people repatriate. They help transport the medical personnel who are traveling to help us all. This is all done at the risk of exposing themselves and their families to serious illness. The courage Flight Attendants are displaying every day deserves our appreciation and heartfelt thanks.

The Machinists Union worked with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) to successfully lobby ICAO to recognize May 31st each year as International Cabin Crew Day. The day was designated to recognize the critical safety role of Flight Attendants in the maintenance of flight and cabin safety and the protection of passengers, crew and aircraft alike. The IAM had planned celebratory activities for today in coordination with the ITF, but the global pandemic forced us to shelve our plans to comply with the restrictions that are still in place in many locations.

Although there are many graduating seniors and their families who are celebrating this year with much less fanfare than expected, nothing can diminish their accomplishments. The same is true for Flight Attendants today. While the global celebration the IAM and ITF had prepared for won’t be taking place, the appreciation we have for all Flight Attendants is unshakeable. Labeling Flight Attendants as essential workers is a gross understatement.

To every IAM Flight Attendant, I thank you for the work you do for your industry, your passengers and your union every day. I am proud that you are an integral part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the world’s largest airline union.

In closing, I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch a video prepared by IAM Flight Attendant Representatives showing their appreciation for their Flight Attendant colleagues.

Sito Pantoja

GENERAL VICE PRESIDENT

IAM, Congress Tells Treasury to Protect Airline Workers Pay and Benefits Under CARES Act

At the urging of the IAM, 75 US Representatives demanded US airlines, including Delta, comply with the terms and conditions of the CARES Act.
WASHINGTON, May 27, 2020 – The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today applauded a letter written by 75 members of Congress, led by U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.), to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that presses Treasury to issue CARES Act guidance that prohibits reducing hours, pay and benefits.

“We thank Congresswoman Schakowsky, and all 75 U.S. Representatives, for demanding that the CARES Act protect airline workers’ pay and benefits, as mandated by law,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “Greedy airline executives will not get away with taking taxpayer money with one hand and then slashing their pay and benefits with the other. The IAM will continue to lead the charge to protect all airline workers’ pay and benefits.”

As a response to the worst financial crisis in U.S. airline industry history brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. airlines received $50 billion under the CARES Act, with $25 billion in direct grants to be utilized exclusively for the continuation of airline workers’ pay, benefits and employment. Airlines such as United, Delta, JetBlue and Republic Airways received almost $12 billion combined and then announced forced reductions of hours worked, and consequently pay and benefits, of tens of thousands of workers.

“Congress’ intent when it included Air Carrier Worker Support provisions was to prevent airline workers from suffering the immediate negative economic effects of a virus they had no ability to prevent,” wrote Rep. Schakowsky and 75 other members of Congress. “Reducing hours while ‘maintaining rate of pay’ goes directly against this goal and places these airlines out of compliance with the CARES Act.”

The deadline for Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to respond is June 5, 2020.

Read the letter here.

Machinists Union to Delta and JetBlue: You Are Not Above the Law

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2020 -- The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today reiterated its demand that Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways restore workers’ pay and benefits. Delta and JetBlue combined have accepted approximately $6.5 billion under the CARES Act in taxpayer funded airline bailout money intended to maintain workers’ jobs, pay and benefits until at least Sept. 30, 2020.

Earlier this month, the IAM filed a federal lawsuit against United Airlines after the carrier announced similar plans to reduce all full-time ground workers’ hours, which would have reduced their pay and benefits. United then reversed course and suspended its plan.

"Delta and JetBlue may not have reduced hourly pay rates, but they did reduce weekly, monthly and yearly pay rates, just as United tried to do,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “The undeniable result is workers are involuntarily taking home less money to support their families. A pay cut is a pay cut.”

Both Delta and JetBlue applied for and received taxpayer funds under the Payroll Support Program component of the CARES Act, which required airlines to maintain workers’ jobs, pay and benefits as a condition of taking the funds.

In letters to the CEOs of Delta and JetBlue, 13 Senators led by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote, “Your workers supported relief for airlines on the condition that their jobs, pay, and benefits would be protected. On April 23, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers wrote you a letter opposing your mandatory time off policy, and noting that, ‘The IAM, along with the all the other AFL-CIO affiliated transportation unions, and Delta JetBlue workers, fought for the federal stimulus to protect airline workers and save the airline industry from the ravages of the novel coronavirus pandemic,’ but that your company is ‘using that good faith support of airline workers around the country and at every carrier to [undermine the interest of your own workforces].’”

“We called on Delta and JetBlue to reverse course over three weeks ago and they have thumbed their noses at their employees, Congress and American taxpayers,” continued Pantoja. “Delta and JetBlue are not above the law and should immediately restore their workers’ pay and benefits as required under the CARES Act.”

After IAM’s Pressure, United Backs Off Forced Furlough Plan

IAM Local Lodge 1726 in Boston prepare to picket United Airlines.
The IAM’s campaign and the resulting public outrage against United Airlines has caused the carrier to back away from its illegal schemeto force 15,000 full-time IAM members into part-time positions.

After accepting $5 billion from taxpayers as part of the CARES Act, United made the unilateral decision to drastically reduce the wages, retirement benefits, and paid leave of IAM-represented Fleet Service and Passenger Service members.The IAM quickly responded with a lawsuit, alleging United had violated the intent of the CARES Act, as well as the Railway Labor Act and the IAM’s collective bargaining agreements with the carrier.

United has since changed course, instead offering IAM members the opportunity to voluntarily work fewer hours without losing their full-time status. The carrier, however, has left the door open to resuming its forced reduction to part-time program.

“While today it appears that, thanks to your hard work and solidarity, we have won an important battle, we have not yet won the war,” said IAM Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “We will monitor United’s action closely to see what further legal and congressional action may become necessary.”

United’s plan drew bipartisan scorn, including from U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). More than 12,000 messages were sent to members of Congress from the IAM’s action alert asking lawmakers to intervene.

The IAM’s campaign captivated the attention of the entire labor movement, since United’s action threatened to spur other companies to mistreat workers while accepting taxpayer dollars from coronavirus relief legislation. The International Transport Workers’ Federation supported IAM members in a letter to United Airlines, urging the carrier to reconsider forced layoffs.

American Airlines challenged United’s assertion that the CARES Act’s airline relief section allowed for furloughs.

IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sounded the alarm with President Trump, asking the White House to step in and prevent United from moving forward with the furloughs.

“With over 30 million Americans out of work, now is not the time for unscrupulous companies to undermine the clear intent of the federal relief effort aimed at worker retention,” wrote Martinez and Trumka. “Is it too much to ask corporations like United to honor their commitment under the CARES Act?”

The IAM’s campaign made national headlines, including in the Chicago TribuneCNBCForbes and CBS 2 Chicago.

The IAM represents more than 30,000 members at United Airlines and is the largest airline union in North America.

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