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United Airlines workers protest potential layoffs after company received billions in Covid relief

April 7, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 22.2%. 1 min read.

FILE - In this March 25, 2020 file photo, United Airlines planes are parked at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. With more people feeling increasingly comfortable with traveling now that vaccinations are taking place, airlines are trying to accommodate the pent up demand by adding flights worldwide. United Airlines said Thursday, March 25, 2021, that in May it???s adding 26 new nonstop routes between Midwest cities and popular vacation destinations. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Roughly 2,000 United Airlines food service workers are worried they might be laid off before the end of the year, despite the airline receiving billions in Covid relief funds and agreeing to pay millions in bonuses to its top executives.

The demonstrations outside airports in Denver, Houston, Honolulu and Newark, New Jersey, came nearly three months after United's vice president of customer strategy and innovation, Mandeep Grewal, sent a letter to the catering staff informing them that the airline was "exploring the option of having a third-party come in and run our current in-house kitchen operations. "

Garcia and Eleanor Holmes Norton sent a letter to United CEO Scott Kirby on Wednesday criticizing the company for taking federal money to pay employees during the worst of the pandemic only to consider laying them off a year later.

The congresswomen also sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, according to UNITED HERE, urging her to consider a "clawback" of the pandemic relief funds sent to United if the company does eventually lay off its catering staff.

United transportation coordinator Jenkins Kolongbo, 37, a Liberian immigrant who demonstrated outside Newark International Airport on Wednesday, said he thinks the company is taking advantage of the fact its staff has not finalized its union deal.

UNITE HERE said catering workers have been working without a contract for at least two years.

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