Airlines threaten 'draconian measures' against 750,000 employees if Congress doesn't bail them out

The Chief executives of the largest airline companies in the United States are telling Congress that if they don't receive immediate help, they will be taking extreme measures including widespread layoffs among their combined 750,000 employees.

“Unless worker payroll protection grants are passed immediately, many of us will be forced to take draconian measures such as furloughs,” the CEOs said in a letter addressed to the House and the Senate.

“The breadth and immediacy of the need to act cannot be overstated,” it said. “It is urgent and unprecedented.”

The Airlines for America group, who distributed the letter, represent Alaska, Atlas, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, United Airlines, and UPS.

“On behalf of 750,000 airline professionals and our nation’s airlines, we respectfully request Congress to continue to move expeditiously to pass a bipartisan proposal that includes a combination of worker payroll protection grants, loans and loan guarantees and tax measures. Time is running out.”

The letter says that if Congress gives them tens of billions of dollars, it promises to not layoff employees until at least August 31, 2020.

The airlines have come under criticism recently for spending all their profits on stock buybacks instead of investing it in their employees and future. Several top progressives, including former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, don't think they should "see a dime" of bailout money.

“Throughout this crisis Trump and Republicans in Congress have made it clear that they believe in generous socialism for banks, airlines, and the cruise industry, but think the American people should mostly fend for themselves,” Reich wrote.

“As a former secretary of labor, I can tell you that the airlines don’t deserve a $50 billion bailout,” he explained. “In the last 10 years, they spent 96% of their cash flow to buy back shares of their own stock in order to boost executive bonuses.”

“They shouldn’t see a dime of taxpayer money,” Reich concluded.