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Fri, Mar 21, 2003

Teamsters Say Taxpayers Owe Industry More

Airline Workers Deserve More Job Protections

The following statement was issued Thursday by Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa:

"Since September 11, 2001, no industry has been hit harder than the airline business. More than 150,000 airline workers have already lost their jobs in the United States and thousands more have seen their wages and benefits slashed as their employers fight to stay afloat.

"The last time we engaged in war in the Middle East, airlines were hit hard. If air travel experiences a similar decline in these shaky economic times, airline workers will face more unprecedented losses. The Bush Administration is in a unique position where they have the opportunity to assist the nation's airline workers who will surely be one of the first groups of workers to feel the economic impact of this conflict.

"Workers within the aviation industry have already dealt with the tragedy of terrorism and its effect on their livelihood. As a result, the government allocated $15 billion to the airlines as part of the Air Transportation Stabilization Act."

The U.S. airline industry, its employees and those who utilize its services must be protected.

As federal money approved for loan guarantees will not actually be spent unless a guaranteed airline defaults, the unused funds should be allocated to a new fund that would provide airline workers who are negatively affected by a war with Iraq. That fund should provide workers with:

  • Extended unemployment benefits for six months;
  • Health care coverage that would pay 75% of an eligible worker's COBRA continuation or temporary state Medicaid coverage for those not covered under COBRA; and
  • Job retraining assistance.
FMI: www.teamster.org

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