Jul 27, 2020
United Airlines announced big cuts, furloughing up to 36,000 workers—close to half of their workforce. American Airlines is cutting 25,000—more than a quarter of their total workforce.
This comes after these airlines accepted 25 billion in government grants and loans, as part of the first CARES Act this spring. That bailout came with the restriction: no layoffs until October. With October now a couple months away, the companies are back at it, crying broke, and threatening their workers again.
Over the last decade, the major airlines racked up billions in profits off of the sweat of their workers. They gave most of this money back to their shareholders, by using it to buy up their own stock, inflating their stock price. Worker wages and benefits still haven’t recovered to where they were twenty years ago, before 9/11, followed by the 2008 recession.
Air traffic is down as much as 75% so far in July. Workers created all that wealth that kept the airlines flush in the decade before this crisis—that money should by rights go toward meeting their needs. Workers need to stay on, with their pay—and the remaining work divided amongst them.