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IAM Delta Flight Attendants

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.

Machinists Union Opposes Delta and JetBlue Taking Bailout Money and Cutting Workers’ Pay

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2020 -- The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today demanded that Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways, who received taxpayer funded federal funds, reverse course and restore airline workers pay.

“The payroll support component for air carriers in the CARES Act requires that taxpayer-funded grant dollars be used to maintain the pay and benefits of the dedicated JetBlue and Delta workers who have made your airlines successful and who are risking their lives every day by providing essential services to the American public,” said IAM District 141 and 142 Presidents Mike Klemm and Dave Supplee in a letter to the two airlines’ CEOs. “It is our understanding that tens of thousands of Delta and JetBlue workers have taken unpaid voluntary leaves in order to aid the carriers in reducing labor costs, yet you have implemented unconscionable policies to reduce the pay of those workers that remain. At Delta, thousands of workers are being forced to work less hours per week without pay […] At JetBlue, workers have been forced to take 24 days of unpaid leave from now until September 30, 2020. The grant money that you demanded and received was calculated using these workers’ compensation and is meant to maintain their salaries and benefits through this crisis.”

Both Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways applied for and received direct, taxpayer funded federal grants under the CARES Act. As a condition of taking the direct grant federal funds, air carriers are prohibited from cutting airline workers pay and benefits and from laying off workers until September 30, 2020.

“Hundreds of thousands of IAM members in every sector of our union proudly called elected officials and demanded action to protect the industries in which we work,” continued Klemm and Supplee. “Now, opportunist corporate actors such as yourselves are using that good faith support of airline workers around the country and at every carrier to screw your own workforces and greedily undermine the intent of the federal stimulus funds that you demanded.”

The entire letter is available here.

Delta Management Questioned for Potentially Exposing Flight Attendants to COVID-19

The IAM Delta campaign sent the following email to Allison Ausband, Senior Vice President of Inflight Services:

Allison, Today a video of an internal ALPA Delta MEC Skype conference was leaked on social media. It brought up some questions and concerns regarding Covid-19 reporting. Can you send us the policy of what happens when an active employee tests positive for Covid-19 and discloses their status to the company?

In the video, the ALPA MEC representatives state that there are 32 pilots who have tested positive for Covid-19, and probably many more than that. Will Delta management, or has management, informed the flight attendants who have flown with the pilots who have tested positive so that they can get tested also and protect themselves and their families? And if so, is there a time table for that?

The video also shows an exchange discussing what appears to be common knowledge amongst the officers. They state that the Chief Pilot instructed them not to disclose reporting information with flight attendants. Is there an investigation regarding the Chief Pilot in this regard?


Julianna Helminski
IAMDelta Campaign

View the video.

IAM Fights and Senate Passes Bill to Steady Air and Rail Industries

The Senate late last night passed a bi-partisan stimulus Bill that will help stabilize the air and rail industries, protect all airline workers and provide the entire country with much-needed financial relief. The House of Representatives is expected to easily pass the Bill on Friday.

“This critical legislation was almost derailed by opportunists, including some in the labor movement, trying to add self-serving conditions to the aid our members and our industry so desperately need,” said General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “The IAM’s legislative team has been working around the clock, seven days a week since this crisis began with specific instructions that their priority was to advocate for our members jobs, not anyone’s unrelated wish list. Thankfully, with the help of tens of thousands of IAM members who contacted their Senators and Representatives, we succeeded and unnecessary conditions were eliminated.”

It is important to emphasize that the IAM fought for airline workers who are not yet in unions just as they will be treated the same under this legislation as unionized airline workers are. Highlights of the federal stimulus for airlines:
  • $25 billion in grants and $25 billion in loans or loan guarantees to the airline industry
  • The grant funds are EXCLUSIVELY for the continuation of payment of employee wages, salaries and benefits
  • No condition to open CBAs and enter concessionary negotiations to receive grant funds, loans or loan guarantees
  • As a condition to receive federal grant funds the carrier must refrain from conducting involuntary furloughs until September 30, 2020
  • Prohibition on stock buybacks until September 30, 2021
  • Prohibition of dividend payments until September 30, 2021
  • Limits on executive compensation
  • Limits on “golden parachutes”
“If not for all of Labor, this legislation would not be centered on workers as it is,” continued Pantoja. “It would have been a give-away to corporations and Wall Street. What we accomplished was substantial, but now is not the time to celebrate. Workers are unemployed, businesses are closed and people are dying every day in our communities from the COVID-19 pandemic. We still have an unprecedented crisis in front of us, so our work is far from being done.”

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