Fear and anger are growing inside United Airlines, where workers are slamming the company over pay cuts after it took billions of dollars in government bailout money

United Airlines employees help a passenger at LaGuardia Airport, Saturday, March 21, 2020, in New York, N.Y.AP Photo/Mary AltafferUnited Airlines has cut work hours for its managers and administrative (M&A) employees, and warned that layoffs are coming.However, workers say that the cuts violate terms of the CARES Act bailout, prohibiting pay cuts or furloughs before…

Fear and anger are growing inside United Airlines, where workers are slamming the company over pay cuts after it took billions of dollars in government bailout money

United Airlines employees help a passenger at LaGuardia Airport, Saturday, March 21, 2020, in New York, N.Y.AP Photo/Mary AltafferUnited Airlines has cut work hours for its managers and administrative (M&A) employees, and warned that layoffs are coming.However, workers say that the cuts violate terms of the CARES Act bailout, prohibiting pay cuts or furloughs before September 30.Business Insider spoke with United M&A workers who described stress, anxiety, and frustration with the airline as they prepare for what could be massive job cuts.Are you an employee at United or another airline? Contact this reporter with your thoughts or tips at dslotnick@businessinsider.com.Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.Video: Flight attendants on how COVID-19 has affected their jobsTwo months after United Airlines agreed to terms with the federal government and accepted a $5 billion bailout for payroll support, workers at United Airlines are accusing the airline of breaking its promise.Earlier this month, United announced that it would require management and administrative (M&A) employees to take 20 unpaid days off between May 15 and September 30. The requirement came as airlines around the globe — including United — reduced flights and grounded portions of their fleets due to a collapse in travel demand during the coronavirus pandemic.The airline also warned that it would need to reduce its M&A payroll by “at least” 30% — American has announced similar plans.However, under the federal CARES Act, the $2 trillion financial package passed in late March, airlines accepting certain types of aid as part of a $25 billion payroll protection scheme are prohibited from laying off, furloughing, or otherwise cutting employee pay until after September 30.Airlines receiving a portion of that aid are also temporarily prohibited from buying back stock or paying dividends to shareholders, and are required to cap executive salaries.United agreed to the terms with the US Treasury Department to receive $5 billion in aid under the payroll program. Seventy percent of that is in the form of grants, while 30% — about $1.5 billion — is available as low-interest loans, which must be paid back. In a memo to employees in April, then-CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby (Kirby took over as CEO in May, part of a planned transition) said that amount would not cover the airline’s total payroll expense, which “only represents about 30% of our total costs.”According to a United spokesperson, the required days off are not considered a furlough and comply with the CARES Act because they do not involve a reduction in pay rate, only in the number of hours worked.Lawmakers have contested that interpretation. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and several House Democrats have written to airlines and the Treasury Department in recent days arguing that the hourly cuts broke both the spirit and the letter of the CARES Act. Cutting hours, but not the workloadIn interviews with Business Insider, several United employees who work in M&A roles said they saw the unpaid time off as a violation of the requirements and the spirit of the CARES Act.Another employee, Kenneth England, filed a class-action suit against the airline. In a statement, one of England’s lawyers, Douglas M. Werman, said the lawsuit raised important issues about who the stakeholders of the payroll support program actually are.”Our view is that one stakeholder is United’s own employees, and that the terms of the PSP Agreemen
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