Unions Representing U.S. Flight Attendants Call on DOT to Support Established Labor Standards and Deny NAI

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The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) called on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to reject an application for a foreign air carrier permit submitted by Norwegian Air International (NAI). In comments filed yesterday, the unions, representing over 80,000 Flight Attendants, urged the DOT to uphold the strong labor protections outlined in the U.S.-E.U. Air Transport Agreement (ATA) known as Open Skies.

AFA, IAM and TWU issued comments in association with the Transportation Trades Department, AFL–CIO (TTD), and the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF).

In the comments filed, the three unions expressed significant security concerns. “Given the ever-increasing sophistication of new threats we are mindful of any attempts, intentionally or unintentionally, to undermine much needed security measures to protect air crews, the flying public, communities, the industry and, of course, U.S. and European international, national and regional security. In this vein, we have sincere concerns that Thailand-based cabin crews hired through a hiring agency guarantee the same level of background checks that exist for European and U.S-based aircrews. The seriousness of this concern on the overall high level of security of operations between the USA and Europe cannot be overstated.”

Currently, the DOT is reviewing an application for a foreign air carrier permit submitted by NAI that threatens to undercut labor standards both in the U.S. and in Europe by circumventing worker protections, evading international labor laws, and creating unfair competition for airlines covered under the Open Skies agreement.

“The U.S. aviation industry is a pillar of our economy and an important middle class job creator.  Bilateral air transport agreements have enjoyed wide support in this country because they have successfully fostered increased competition while providing greater opportunities for U.S. airlines and their workers.  This success is dependent on the implementation and enforcement of agreements that promote balanced competition and business practices that encourage growth and high labor standards. We call on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to deny NAI’s application for an exemption so that the proper evaluation and adjudication processes can be completed.”

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and the Transport Workers Union coordinate on issues of mutual interest to Flight Attendants.  AFA represents 60,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines.  The IAM is a labor union representing workers at 18 airlines and 720,000 members across an array of industries. The TWU represents over 200,000 workers and retirees, including employees at 24 airlines.

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