United Airlines furloughs 13,000 workers, including 1,000 in Houston area

HOUSTON – Thousands of United Airlines employees will not be going into work on Thursday. The airline is furloughing roughly 13,000 workers, including about 1,000 people in the Houston area.

“They’re uncertain. They’re disappointed. They felt like this is completely out of their hands,” said Victor Hernandez, an assistant general chairman with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

The union represents positions like baggage handlers and gate agents.

“If they don’t get the help of Congress to go ahead and extend the airline payroll support then people are going to the street,” Hernandez said.

Sergio Aranda has been working full time as a United Airlines baggage handler for the past 11 years -- and now, that’s changing.

“The way it happened was very kind of unreal, very fast,” Aranda said.

Aranda is being furloughed to part-time, a direct result of Congress' failure to reach a deal on a new relief package before the October 1st deadline.

“I’m going to have to readjust everything, my lifestyle. At work, I’m going to try to hustle to see if I can pick up extra shifts. To be honest, I’m not alone. There (are) hundreds of people looking for the same shifts I’m looking for,” Aranda said.

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