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Legislators have fired greater than 9,000 airline contractors regardless of $ 728 million in federal help

At the Gate Gourmet 110,000-square-foot facility near Dulles Int. Airport.

Astrid Riecken | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Three House Democrats beat up contractors on airlines that fired more than 9,000 employees on Wednesday despite accepting millions of federal funds for corona viruses.

Legislator asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to stop helping businesses or to recover some of the funds.

Congress provided $ 32 billion in salary support to the battered aviation industry under the $ 2.2 trillion CARES Act in March. Of this, $ 3 billion has been allocated to contractors and caterers. The conditions of the aid, which were mainly grants, prevented beneficiaries from dismissing workers by 30 September.

"We urge the Treasury to end taxpayer-funded payroll for layoff workers and to recover any undue funds," wrote Rep. James Clyburn, DS.C., chair of a coronavirus crisis subcommittee. Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transport and Infrastructure Committee, and Rep. Maxine Waters, chairman of the Financial Services Committee, in a letter to Mnuchin.

The finance department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Legislators said they had launched an investigation into help for contractors and found at least 12 who accepted more than $ 720 million in government support after the discharge of approximately 9,300 people.

One of the companies identified by law was the airline caterer Gate Gourmet, whose Zurich-based group of owners did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lawmakers said the company received $ 171 million and fired more than 3,500 workers in California, Georgia, Illinois, and New York.

"Firms that lay off workers to provide payroll support not only run counter to Congress 'intentions, but also waste taxpayers' money by paying the wages bill for employees who have already been fired," the legislator said in a letter to the company .

Unite Here, the union representing Gate Gourmet and Flying Food workers, another contractor who did not respond immediately, described the acceptance of the aid as "reprehensible" despite the cuts.

"These catering companies should be ashamed to have put tens of millions of dollars in their pockets and then given the workers the money to take care of themselves by applying for state and state unemployment benefits," said Megite Cohorst, spokeswoman for Unite Here & # 39; s.

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