Without Extension of CARES Act Payroll Support, Mass Layoffs are Inevitable

Last week, labor leaders including CWA President Chris Shelton and AFA-CWA International President Sara Nelson sent an urgent letter to Congressional leadership calling for the Payroll Support Program (PSP) in the CARES Act to be extended through March 31, 2021. The leaders warned Congress that if the program is not extended, mass layoffs in the aviation industry are inevitable as airlines continue to struggle amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The program, which allocated grants to commercial airlines and airline contractors for the exclusive purpose of keeping employees on payroll with wages and benefits, is set to expire on September 30. PSP funding has kept hundreds of thousands of airline workers employed and covered under their healthcare plans during the pandemic.

"Not only will hundreds of thousands of workers lose their jobs and health insurance, but the industry would lose a large portion of the experienced and credentialed workforce that will be critical to bringing the sector and the broader economy back to prosperity once the COVID-19 crisis is over. Airline industry employment cannot simply be put back together overnight, and mass layoffs will do great damage to the sector, with potentially irrevocable consequences," the labor leaders wrote.