Government payroll support (subsidies) require airlines to pay their furloughed workers, and not to furlough any more, through March 31. Internal American Airlines documents show that most workers won’t be back to work before that meaning most will never be back to work.
The airline does not even plan for two thirds of flight attendants to work during the Payroll Support Program period, and internal documents show how they may reduce the amount of government money that have to pay out to employees – keeping more for themselves. According to the airline,
- No furloughed American Airlines flight attendants will work before March.
It will take months to return all furloughed flight attendants to active flying status, and we will be doing so in phases. We are prioritizing the return-to-work process, outlined below, in seniority order. The earliest return-to-flying date for anyone will be March 2, 2021.
- Just one-third of furloughed flight attendants will actually return to work at all because of payroll support. The rest won’t be recalled for March, which means they will only be recalled at all if passenger demand grows enough to justify it, or there’s a third round of subsidies. This second round of subsidies does not return most American Airlines cabin crew to work, it just pays them.
- Furloughed flight attendants actually have to opt into returning to work (whether American asks them to do so or not) or they won’t get paid. Simple ‘breakage’ (flight attendants not proactively opting in) will let the airline keep more of the subsidy payments the government will be giving them. Flight attendants must opt in by January 4, 2021.
Your first step to take now, regardless of your seniority, is to notify us of your intent to return to work, elect a leave outlined below, or resign from American Airlines. …Accept return to work: Accepting return to work means you will return to flying status as soon as practicable based on your seniority, no earlier than March 2021. Our goal is to return at least 1/3rd of furloughed FAs for March. Resign from American Airlines: Remove yourself from the recall list and permanently leave the company. This would include forfeiting the PSP pay and benefits coverage if you are asked to return to work before March 31, 2021. You have until January 4, 2021, to notify us of your decision. Your last submission prior to the closing date will be used for processing.
Anything that helps push American Airlines employees out the door means more of the subsidy they get to keep for themselves. And if American winds up having to hire more flight attendants to compensate, they’ll be at the bottom of the pay scale. It’s Jerry Glass’s dream.
- American admits the money is a subsidy and merely includes recalling furloughed employees, rather than being entirely for employees.
We are excited that Congress has reached a deal on a legislative package that includes a four-month extension of the Payroll Support Plan Program (PSP). This package, which includes much-needed funds that will help carry us through the tough winter months, allows us to recall all furloughed team members for and pay and benefits effective December 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021.
American will be bringing flight attendants back based on seniority. Earlier in the pandemic senior flight attendants stayed home and got paid, while junior flight attendants worked. Now junior flight attendants will stay home, while more senior flight attendants get recalled.
At the end of the day ‘payroll support’ is an expensive unemployment program combined with a back door way for airlines to pick taxpayer pockets. It doesn’t return most employees to work, doesn’t keep them ‘ready to fly’ as proponents argued for.