Stop Outsourcing: Enforce Trade Agreements

All Aviation Unions United to Enforce Open Skies Agreements


The U.S. Department of Transportation wrongly approved a foreign air carrier permit for Norwegian Air International (NAI). The decision sets aside the labor protections that were central to the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement. We know. We were there! We had a seat at the table when this administration negotiated the Agreement, and now just like any labor contract, the administration needs to make good on this aviation trade deal. This is about our jobs and our nation's ability to move millions of people and connect with the rest of the world.

Norwegian can fly to the U.S. today. We are allies with the U.S.-based and Norwegian-based crews who fly today under U.S. and Norwegian labor law. But NAI, flagged in Ireland, sets up a 'flag of convenience' model in aviation—the same business model that destroyed U.S. shipping. NAI will use this 'flag of convenience' model to hire crews from countries with the lowest labor and safety standards, such as Malaysia or Thailand.

Watch this video to learn of about the dangers of flag of convenience.

Take Action to Save U.S. Aviation 

  1. Sign the Petition >

  2. Tweet the President to stand up for our jobs: 

    Click to Tweet: Stop the first step to outsourcing US Aviation jobs, @POTUS:  http://bit.ly/2odsxDF #FairSkies 

  3. Connect directly to your Senate offices: 1-855-980-2338

    Connect directly to your Representative's office: 1-855-980-2306
"Hello, my name is _________ and I am a constituent. I'm a Flight Attendant calling to urge my Representative/Senator to take action to STOP outsourcing in aviation. The DOT NAI approval opens the door to a flag of convenience model that will lead to outsourcing 300,000 U.S. aviation jobs, just like it decimated the U.S. shipping industry. This is about good U.S. aviation jobs and enforcing our trade deals."

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.

Norwegian flight attendants in US should get US wages and benefits

Letter to the Editor in The Hill by AFA International President Sara Nelson

May 23, 2016 — Joseph Gabriel in his May 18 Congress Blog post “U.S.-based Norwegian flight attendants: Does my job not matter?” asks an important question. The answer is no; their jobs matter so much they deserve the benefits and protections provided by a negotiated contract. The problem is their executive suite does not intend to provide benefits and protections, let alone a family-supporting wage.

Norwegian Air has openly embraced the concept of staffing its operations with temporary employees working on short-term contracts with no benefits. In fact, it’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to prevent the Norwegian Cabin Crew Association (NCCA), a flight attendant union, from obtaining representation for the airline’s U.S.-based flight attendants; see Norwegian’s argument to the National Mediation Board (NMB) that its U.S.-based flight attendants do not work for Norwegian but instead for a subsidiary “employment firm.”

In America, we call this “labor shopping.”

Over the past year, members of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) have been working with the NCCA to provide comprehensive legal and technical support that was crucial to the April 19, 2016, NMB decision that Norwegian flight attendants have the right to vote for union representation under U.S. law.

The AFA stands with Norwegian flight attendants because we understand that the arguments of Norwegian and its “employment firm” represent a direct attack on the right of flight attendants to obtain union representation should they so choose.

Norwegian’s game in establishing an Irish subsidiary to skirt the laws of Norway is a familiar one about two things only: corporate greed and trampling labor rights. This corporate game is now attempting to create a flag-of-convenience model that will destroy U.S. aviation and Joseph Gabriel’s job, along with millions of others.

This isn’t just about U.S. aviation jobs; it’s about enforcing the Open Skies Agreement that promises good-paying aviation jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

That matters.

Read the Letter to the Editor from AFA International President Sara Nelson in The Hill (May 23, 2016) >

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.

Aviation Unions Fight for U.S. Aviation Jobs

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA: “The DOT decision overrides carefully negotiated worker rights and designs a new playbook that rolls out the red carpet for foreign corporations by trampling workers’ rights. Congress must be prepared to act next week. President Obama must reverse this harmful decision and stand up for working people all across the country. We will not accept this. We will act. We will never stop. We will never accept abrogation of our rights.” Read full Release >

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO: “Today’s decision betrays America’s aviation workers by granting a rogue, flag-of-convenience airline a permit to serve the United States. Unless reversed, this decision threatens a generation of U.S. airline jobs and tells foreign airlines that scour the globe for cheap labor and lax employment laws that America is open for business." Read TTD's Full Statement >

Air Line Pilots Association: "We are extremely disappointed by the Department of Transportation’s decision to run roughshod over the U.S. Open Skies agreement and allow Norwegian Air International to fly to and from the United States," said Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president. "This flawed action is a lasting legacy of the Obama administration and demonstrates an egregious lack of support for working men and women in this country." Read ALPA's Full Statement >

Key Aviation Lawmakers on DOT NAI Decision:  “This is a slap in the face to American workers,” said the Members. “Today’s decision by the Department of Transportation to award NAI a foreign air carrier permit is in direct contravention of Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement, and says to the world that the U.S. will reward countries that break their commitments to protecting workers.” Read the full statement from Members Larsen, LoBiondo, and DeFazio > 

 

Archived information appears below...


 

Over 100 Members of Congress Urge President-Elect to Protect American Jobs and Security, Reject NAI

On December 2, 2016, the Department of Transportation (DOT) made a grievously wrong decision to grant Norwegian Air International a foreign air carrier permit for U.S.-Europe air services. Given your commitment to protecting American jobs and our national security, we strongly urge you, on Day One of your presidency, to revoke or suspend the permit until Norwegian changes its business model to a model that does not rely on a flag of convenience and threaten America’s international aviation industry and our national security,” the members wrote. Read the full letter from the Members>

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders Calls on the President to Stand Up for Good U.S. Aviation Jobs

"Unless DOT’s decision is reversed, it will be an open invitation to other foreign carriers to create flag-of-convenience subsidiaries, threatening the middle class jobs of thousands of flight attendants, mechanics, pilots and other airline workers in our country. We must do everything we can to prevent a global race to the bottom in the airline industry," Sanders wrote. Read the full letter from Sen. Sanders> 

AFA International President Sara Nelson sent a letter to Congressional leadership on December 6, 2016 urging immediate action: 

"If action is not taken quickly we will be witness to a radical shift in the aviation industry where foreign interests dominate the U.S. marketplace, but keep their money overseas and out of the hands of American workers. American skies must be subject to American safety standards and to the high level of American cockpit and crew standards. Bipartisan legislation already exists with significant support. We are calling on your leadership to take action before it's too late." Read the full letter from President Nelson >

Aviation Unions Fight for U.S. Aviation Jobs

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA: “The DOT decision overrides carefully negotiated worker rights and designs a new playbook that rolls out the red carpet for foreign corporations by trampling workers’ rights. Congress must be prepared to act next week. President Obama must reverse this harmful decision and stand up for working people all across the country. We will not accept this. We will act. We will never stop. We will never accept abrogation of our rights.” Read full Release >

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO: “Today’s decision betrays America’s aviation workers by granting a rogue, flag-of-convenience airline a permit to serve the United States. Unless reversed, this decision threatens a generation of U.S. airline jobs and tells foreign airlines that scour the globe for cheap labor and lax employment laws that America is open for business." Read TTD's Full Statement >

Air Line Pilots Association: "We are extremely disappointed by the Department of Transportation’s decision to run roughshod over the U.S. Open Skies agreement and allow Norwegian Air International to fly to and from the United States," said Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president. "This flawed action is a lasting legacy of the Obama administration and demonstrates an egregious lack of support for working men and women in this country." Read ALPA's Full Statement >

Key Aviation Lawmakers on DOT NAI Decision:  “This is a slap in the face to American workers,” said the Members. “Today’s decision by the Department of Transportation to award NAI a foreign air carrier permit is in direct contravention of Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement, and says to the world that the U.S. will reward countries that break their commitments to protecting workers.” Read the full statement from Members Larsen, LoBiondo, and DeFazio >

 

Flight Attendants Urge the Flying Public to Enforce Open Skies Agreements

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA will urge the flying public December 20-23, 2016 to tell the President to stop Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) foreign air carrier permit. The Department of Transportation on December 2, 2016 approved NAI to fly to the U.S., setting a dangerous precedent that risks hundreds of thousands of U.S. aviation jobs.

“Passengers need to know how the NAI decision will impact their communities and the oversight of the regulations and trained professionals who keep them safe,” said Sara Nelson, international president of AFA. “Aviation was born in the U.S. and built faithfully by the workers who make our airlines fly. Flight Attendants and hundreds of thousands of workers have fought for the highest standards of aviation safety and security. These good people and thousands of good U.S. jobs are at risk with this decision.”

The NAI decision sets up a ‘flag of convenience’ model in aviation; the first step to outsourcing U.S. aviation jobs. It fails to uphold the labor protections of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement.

  • Los Angeles (LAX) December 20 - Terminal 6, 6:00am - 2:00pm
  • Portland (PDX) December 20 - 7:30am - 3:00pm
  • Seattle (SEA) December 20 - Skybridge 4, 7:00 - 11:00am; 12:00 - 4:00pm
  • Seattle (SEA) December 21 - Skybridge 4, 8:00am - 12:00pm
  • Los Angeles (LAX) December 22 - Terminal 6, 10:00am - 2:00pm
  • Chicago (ORD) - December 23 - 11:00am - 12:00pm
  • Dallas (DFW) - December 23
  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Washington, DC (IAD)

Check with your Local Council for details at your airport and volunteer an hour or two of your time to help save our jobs. 

All Aviation Unions United to Enforce Open Skies Agreements


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 >

CALL YOUR REP: 

"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.

Participating Unions in the DENYNAI Rally

  • AFL-CIO
  • Transportation Trades Department (TTD), AFL-CIO
  • Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), AFL-CIO
  • Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)
  • International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM)
  • Transport Workers Union (TWU)
  • Allied Pilots Association (APA)
  • Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA)
  • Communications Workers of America (CWA)
  • NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP)

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 

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.”

In the News

Resources

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO: “Today’s decision betrays America’s aviation workers by granting a rogue, flag-of-convenience airline a permit to serve the United States. Unless reversed, this decision threatens a generation of U.S. airline jobs and tells foreign airlines that scour the globe for cheap labor and lax employment laws that America is open for business." Read TTD's Full Statement >

 Air Line Pilots Association: "We are extremely disappointed by the Department of Transportation’s decision to run roughshod over the U.S. Open Skies agreement and allow Norwegian Air International to fly to and from the United States," said Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA’s president. "This flawed action is a lasting legacy of the Obama administration and demonstrates an egregious lack of support for working men and women in this country." Read ALPA's Full Statement >

Key Aviation Lawmakers on DOT NAI Decision:  “This is a slap in the face to American workers,” said the Members. “Today’s decision by the Department of Transportation to award NAI a foreign air carrier permit is in direct contravention of Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU Open Skies Agreement, and says to the world that the U.S. will reward countries that break their commitments to protecting workers.” Read the full statement from Members Larsen, LoBiondo, and DeFazio >

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