May 12, 2020


Newton, MA – Congressman Joe Kennedy III today blasted United Airline’s decision to eliminate 3,400 management and administration positions and reduce approximately 15,000 full-time positions to part-time. After United Airlines accepted $5 billion in taxpayer assistance via the Payroll Support Program, $3.5 billion of which will not need to be paid back, Kennedy raised concerns that the layoffs and workforce reductions violated the congressional intent behind the program. 

“While I am glad that public outcry and pending legal action pushed United Airlines to make these mandatory hour reductions voluntary, I remain deeply concerned by your labor practices,” wrote Kennedy. “I am particularly troubled by the statement that the originally proposed mandatory hour reductions will be implemented by late June if an insufficient number of employees volunteer to reduce their hours. The very act of threatening across-the-board schedule reductions makes the current ‘voluntary’ reductions anything but voluntary.

“United Airlines Spokesman Frank Benenati was correct when he stated that it is not sustainable for the company to spend billions more than it takes in,” he continued. “However, it is also correct to state that a business model that spends 80 percent of free cash flow on stock buybacks, just as United Airlines has done for the last decade, is unsustainable. For years, the business prioritized increasing stock values for shareholders and top executives over saving and preparing for the next economic downturn. United Airlines would be less reliant on government assistance and would not have to push workers off the payrolls if company leadership focused on long-term sustainability instead of enriching themselves.”

To read Kennedy’s full letter, please click here.

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For Immediate Release:
May 12, 2020

Dan Black (202) 225-5931