March 16, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers, The change enveloping our industry is unprecedented. Each day brings us new revelations about where COVID-19 is spreading and how it is being transmitted. We wake up each day and learn about the latest travel restrictions imposed and what traditional parts of our daily life, such as sporting events, restaurants and our children’s schools, are suddenly closed for business.
What our industry is experiencing is extraordinary. We have been through deregulation, bankruptcies, industry consolidation and terrorists weaponizing our workplace. But we find ourselves today in a crisis, though temporary, that is unparalleled in our lifetimes.
Air and rail carriers simply have no playbook for what is happening to our industry. Anyone who tells you what the future holds in the coming days, weeks or months is simply guessing. Front-line air and rail workers, industry CEOs, Wall Street bankers and politicians are all in the same exact position – nobody knows exactly what will come next. But pretending a crisis does not exist is not a successful strategy.
If people aren’t traveling, whether by choice or imposed restrictions, planes will be parked and rail service will be cut. Less demand for travel means less demand for the services our members provide. While we protect ourselves and our families against this virus, we must also be ready for the temporary economic hardships that are likely to come.
Although the industry is better positioned than it was prior to 9-11, we must be prepared for short term turmoil that could be even greater than we endured in the wake of the 2001 attacks. The Machinists Union is in daily communication with our carriers trying to prevent any major disruption to our members. We are meeting with our elected leaders in the House and Senate to make sure you and your family are not forgotten as federal aid to the industry and other relief measures are being discussed. The IAM is working diligently to protect our members from the fallout the virus has created. However, just as no amount of care we take can guarantee we will not catch the virus, I cannot promise you there won’t be some short-term pain ahead.
One thing you can count on is the Machinists Union working on your behalf. The only reason we exist is to protect our members. While the specific circumstances are new, our responsibility is the same as it was in previous challenges: to ensure any negative impact to IAM members and their families is as little as necessary. The Machinists Union will draw on our extensive experience and resources in defending our members like we have done during previous crises. We will face the challenges ahead together, just as we always do, and emerge even stronger.
Please keep yourself and your family safe. Follow all CDC guidelines to minimize your risk for exposure or transmitting the virus further. Your health, and the health of those around you, are not things to gamble with.
Sincerely and fraternally,
Sito Pantoja, General Vice President