Deny NAI

All Aviation Unions United to #DenyNAI

April 15, 2016 — DOT and DOS obliterated their own hailed “breakthrough labor article” in U.S. EU “Open Skies” Air Transport Agreement (ATA). If decision stands – workers’ only recourse to enforce the current trade deal is to ask Administration to open consultation on the same trade provision it just rejected in its decision to approve the Norwegian Air International (NAI) application.

1. TAKE ACTION: Tell your Representative to co-sponsor HR 5090, to enforce the high labor standards negotiated in the E.U.-U.S. Open Skies agreement >


"I am a Flight Attendant and constituent. I am urging you to co-sponsor H.R. 5090, to enforce the high labor standards negotiated in the E.U./U.S. Open Skies agreement. We can't let U.S. aviation be destroyed like U.S. shipping. This is about my job, our nation's economy and our safety and security."

2. DOT SUBMISSIONS ARE CLOSED. Tens of thousands of AFA members and supporters submitted their official objections to the DOT docket. 

3. Last Thursday, 1,000 Flight Attendants, Pilots, Mechanics, Ramp, and Agents— from across the industry— made their voices heard outside of the White House in opposition to the NAI permit. Watch this 2-minute video of the event and a synopsis of what this all means.

Ultimately the NAI case is about another bad deal for hundreds of thousands of American workers' jobs - failed trade enforcement. Congress must take legislative action to stop DOT approval of NAI application.

On this page:
  • Union Support
  • Congressional Support
  • In the News
  • Norwegian's 'Flag of Convenience' Model Explained 

Deny NAI: Union Support 

Deny NAI: Congressional Support 

“This airline is ‘Norwegian’ in name only because it uses a flag of convenience to base crews where labor laws are weak,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Transportation Committee, who called himself “extremely disappointed” with the tentative decision. “Its global outsourcing business model exploits terrible labor, tax and regulatory laws in other countries so it can save a few bucks and undercut competition in the aviation marketplace.”

Deny NAI In the News

Norwegian's 'Flag of Convenience' Model Explained 

Norwegian Air International (NAI) is a subsidiary of Norway-based Norwegian Air Shuttle. NAI has been seeking a foreign air carrier permit from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for two years that would allow it to offer new transatlantic airline service under the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement (ATA).

NAI’s plan has been to use pilots hired under Singaporean or Thai employment contracts and based in Bangkok. Despite its mature collective bargaining relationships with its own unions in Norway, the company did not intend to use Norwegian crews under existing union contracts. And it blatantly sought to evade Norway’s employment and tax laws by basing its corporate operation in Ireland even though it did not offer service there.

NAI’s employment model is inconsistent with the ATA and specifically, Article 17 bis of the pact, which states that air services under the agreement should not “undermine labor standards or the labor-related rights and principles contained in the Parties’ respective laws.” And, if NAI is allowed to operate to the U.S., that “flag of convenience” model will set the new standard for other airlines to certificate flying in countries with the lowest labor standards, putting tens of thousands of U.S. aviation jobs and the entire U.S. aviation industry at risk.

On Friday, the DOT issued what is referred to as a Show Cause Order which tentatively approves the NAI application pending a 21 day comment and 7 day reply comment period - opening the door to full approval of the application by May 16, 2016. However, there is no required timeframe for the DOT to issue a final order once the comment period closes.

Trade Policy Run Amok

The U.S. and EU hailed as a breakthrough the labor article negotiated into the core of the U.S.-EU ATA. Article 17 bis is the strongest employee protection ever included in a U.S. air services agreement and was declared by negotiators as a progressive and meaningful provision. Yet now that the first test of that article has come before our government, the U.S. DOT proposes to gut it.

On page six of the April 15, 2016 decision, the DOT writes: 

“The Department of State further states that Article 17 bis of that Agreement does not provide a basis upon which a Party may unilaterally deny an air carrier of the other Party a permit to provide services under the Agreement when the carrier is otherwise qualified to receive such a permit.”

In other words – everything matters in these trade agreements except the workers.

This is not the way trade is supposed to work. The U.S.-EU ATA opened the transatlantic market to new service and competition but its framework was based on a commitment to high labor standards and the avoidance of “forum shopping” in order to lower labor standards. The U.S. labor movement is joined by many others in opposing NAI, including unions in Europe and several major U.S. and EU airlines. Also, there has been a broad bipartisan call by Congress for rejection of NAI’s application. Congress has also passed legislation intended to ensure that DOT enforces the terms of Article 17 bis of the ATA.

Ultimately the NAI case is about trade enforcement. Article 17 bis states the unequivocal intent of the signatories that opportunities made available by the ATA are not to be used to undermine labor standards. But with the recently issued DOT Show Cause Order, the force of the Article 17 bis protections has been dismissed.

The message here is clear: even when strong labor standards are included in a trade agreement, the enforcement of those provisions can vanish just when employees’ jobs and rights are at risk. This is not the way to enforce our trade agreements. Failing to enforce Article 17 bis will cost jobs and lower labor standards and rights, and will subject air carriers that follow the rules to unfair competition.

DOT should reverse its tentative decision, say “no” to NAI’s flag-of-convenience scheme, and deny NAI’s application. Congress must take legislative action to stop DOT approval of NAI application. Take Action NOW >


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