IAM CALLS OUT CEO BEDFORD FOR WRONGLY CUTTING HOURS LAST YEAR, DEMANDS M & R WORKERS BE REPAID
In a hotly-worded letter to CEO Bryan Bedford, Chief of Staff to the International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), Richard Johnsen, called out the airline for siphoning a portion of the almost $300 million Republic collected in federal payroll support away from front-line workers.
"Republic received over $300 million in tax-payer funded grants and loans from the CARES ACT, which was supposed to protect the jobs, pay and benefits of Republic employees. However, you and your management team cut the hours, pay and benefits of these hard-working employees in 2020. These actions, which, in my opinion, violated the intention and spirit of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) of the CARES ACT, must be rectified. Republic workers who suffered a loss of pay and benefits because their hours were cut last year should be made whole immediately.”
In 2020, as the pandemic devastated air travel, a coalition of unions and airlines lobbied Congress to provide emergency funds to cover payrolls for the nation’s carriers. Airline workers are highly trained and can be very difficult to replace. The Payroll Support Program allowed airlines to retain their workforces and recover from the pandemic much faster.
Republic received approximately $300 million from the program, a sum based on how much the airline spent on payroll in 2019. This amount should have been sufficient to cover labor costs in 2020, according to the IAMAW. Republic promised to retain its entire workforce and not conduct layoffs, terminations, or reduce hours or wages as part of the deal.
However, Republic executives reneged on their promise, cutting hours, and canceling scheduled pay raises immediately after collecting billions in taxpayer aid. The company also did not replace workers who were fired or who quit. According to the union, all of this resulted in payroll costs that were much lower than they were in 2019, allowing the airline to keep the extra taxpayer funding as profit.
The IAM is calling for Republic to repay M & R workers immediately. “Republic workers deserve better,” the union told CEO Bedford. “They deserve to be repaid the money you wrongly took from them last year. They deserve to have their 401k accounts increased by the exact amount that was lost due to their working hours/pay being wrongly cut.
READ THE LETTER HERE.
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