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With vaccines getting approved and out, support of airline industry is critical to recovery 

Tens of thousands of aviation workers are hanging their hopes this holiday on Congress acting fast to pass a $908 billion bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill that includes $17 billion for four months of payroll support for aviation workers. Some airlines have already furloughed, leaving workers without jobs. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines--for the first time in the airline’s history--sent WARN Act notices to approximately 6,800 of its aviation workers this December, including 1,500 flight attendants.

“Our highly-trained men and women in the air and on the ground need this support,” Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556, the union of Southwest Airlines flight attendant, said. “We urge Congress and the public to support front-line aviation workers by advocating for this relief funding.”

TWU Local 556 joins other aviation unions in advocating for federal support that would provide a desperately-needed bridge to this spring, when the positive effects of the vaccines will begin to be felt. Also, distribution of vaccines will require the transportation of critical people and immunizations all over the country, something the airline industry is poised and ready to help accomplish.

To save jobs, flight attendants have already stepped up to help Southwest Airlines in unprecedented ways. In the spring of 2020,more than 5,000 flight attendants of the Dallas-based carrier took extended leaves or voluntary separations, reducing flight attendant headcount by 32 percent. These voluntary actions helped result in $1.1 billion saved for Southwest Airlines in 2021, according to the company. Yet, just weeks before Christmas, 1,500 Southwest Airlines flight attendants received WARN Act notices that their jobs could be in jeopardy in early 2021.

“Flight attendants are doing what they can to help. Members of TWU Local 556, flight attendants of Southwest Airlines, are serving customers bravely during the pandemic, and those that could afford to have stepped up to take voluntary leave or separation programs to reduce costs. We ask for the public’s help in advocating for federal support that is badly needed,” Montgomery said.

It’s not just jobs on the line: the critical infrastructure that is air travel not only carries economic recovery on its wingtips, but also facilitates the critical travel of people and vaccines.

Please contact your elected representatives and encourage their support of this bipartisan relief action. Help is needed now!

About TWU Local 556

The Transport Workers Union of America Local 556 (TWU Local 556) represents more than 16,000 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines. The mission of TWU Local 556, through collective bargaining, is to provide adequate wages, retirement, and safe working conditions for its members. The union promotes legislation and engages in other activities to safeguard the economic security and social welfare of working people, to protect each member from unjust discipline and to promote the well-being and continued employment of all members.



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