United Airlines to lay off hundreds of workers at Orlando International Airport


  • Photo via United/Facebook
Due to drastic reductions in air travel, United Airlines announced it is laying off hundreds of workers at Orlando International Airport, beginning in October.

United said 447 MCO technicians, flight attendants and other employees would lose their jobs. The company will let go another 109 Tampa International Airport workers, an eighth of its workforce there.

The airline reported the planned layoffs to Florida's WARN Notice system, which requires employers to notify the state of mass employee terminations, providing 60 days' notice or more.

The company announced in early July that 36,000 workers could be laid off nationally, about half of its U.S. staff. Last week, the company reported a $1.6 billion quarterly loss, reflecting what it said was as much as a 95 percent drop in passenger traffic. The company's stock, it should be noted, has maintained its value.

"We have lost billions of dollars over this three-month period and are still spending far more than we are taking in," wrote Kate Gebo, United's executive vice president for human resources and labor relations, in a letter to the state. "Additionally, we expect that travel demand will not go back to ‘normal’ until there is a vaccine for COVID-19."
United is waiting to lay off the workers because, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times, United accepted financial assistance as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which compels them to keep employees on until October.

United said more than 6,000 employees took buyout offers, before the company began preparing the 36,000 layoff notices in the summer.

In January, Orlando International Airport employees were petitioning for a $15 minimum wage, but since the start of the pandemic, statewide employment has skyrocketed, especially in Orange and Osceola counties, hitting tourism and airport workers particularly hard.

In March, employees of the airports Chili's restaurant, owned by a vendor, asks servers to come in and clean, and then fired them.

Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis mistakenly said 260 airport employees tested positive for COVID-19, which MCO had to correct.

It's a particularly tough time to be unemployed in Florida, as the weekly $600 benefits will soon drop out for CARES Act recipients. In mid-July, the state's Department of Employment Opportunity quietly laid off hundreds of call-center employees, making it even more difficult to seek assistance by phone. United workers may be able to enroll in the state's system via the company's filing.

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