Celebrating 70 Years of Collective Action

As we celebrate our history, we look forward to what will be achieved by this generation of Flight Attendants.

Celebrating 70 Years of Collective Action

This week seventy years ago, Edith Lauterbach and fellow United Flight Attendants Ada Brown Greenfield, Francis Hall, Sally Thometz and Sally Watt Keenan were successful in organizing the first union of Flight Attendants, the foundation from which we have achieved amazing victories for equality, workplace health and safety and contracts that define our work as aviation's first responders.

As we celebrate our history, we look forward to what will be achieved by this generation of Flight Attendants. We are taking action in support of contract bargaining and legislative efforts to improve the definition of our work as Flight Attendants, our job security in U.S. aviation and our safety, health and security in the aircraft cabin.

We have a professional team of experts on our AFA staff and incredible AFA leaders and Committee members working these issues – but the power of our union comes from each of you. Your action on these issues makes the difference – and there’s many ways you can help.

Flight Attendant Fatigue - Fight for 10

The FAA Reauthorization Bill will likely be introduced in September and we have been working hard to get Flight Attendant fatigue addressed as part of the bill. Currently, FAA minimum rest can be reduced to just 8 hours between flights after a 14 hour duty day. That’s simply not enough rest as the science shows from fatigue studies we achieved through other FAA Reauthorization Bills. We are fighting to achieve the minimum rest of 10 hours now required for our counterparts in the flight deck along with a Fatigue Risk Management Plan that will allow us a meaningful program to address fatigue issues in the operation. Sign the petition to Congress in our Fight for 10 and spread the word to Flight Attendants throughout the industry. This is a critical issue for Flight Attendants with AFA contracts that already exceed this minimum rest – raising federal standards protects these contractual provisions and provides a solid basis to negotiate even better standards. We have a real opportunity to improve rest across the industry and raise the standards before we even get to the bargaining table. But we need every Flight Attendant voice included. Go to afacwa.org now to take action.

Cyber Security in Aviation

Cyber security is a critical issue for aviation security. Our security experts do this work necessarily out of the public view to ensure agencies are consistently assessing risks with the onset of new technology in order to mitigate concerns. I am proud of the work our union is doing on this issue and I can tell you that aviation is safer because of it. Voice calls on planes are just one small component of our concerns, but the public pressure Flight Attendants built on this issue alone helps create political pressure that assists our deeper work on cyber security. Continue to speak up publicly for No Calls on Planes.

Ending Human Trafficking in Aviation

In June we launched a massive campaign to bring focus to Human Trafficking and our ability to stop it in aviation. We have built Congressional support and we have a champion on the fight with Congresswoman Dina Titus and Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mazie Hirono. But we need to keep it up to get the FAA to require each airline to participate in the Blue Lightning program. We need Flight Attendants to be trained to recognize and report human trafficking and to ensure pilots and dispatchers know what to do to get law enforcement response. Go to hiddeninplanesight.org now to pledge your support. Learn more about how we can be the Eyes in the Skies that help save millions of lives. 

Air Quality - No More Poisonous Fumes in the Aircraft Cabin

For years we have worked to define the problem of poisonous fumes in our cabins through contaminated air circulated from the engine. Flight Attendants have become sick and in some cases permanently disabled following an air quality incident in the cabin, but too often they have not been able to get proper care or compensation for the illness since there is no way to definitively identify the problem. Now though, there is a research project underway at the University of Washington that could change this. Scientist are working on creating a blood test to determine whether or not someone has been poisoned by contaminated bleed air so they can get proper treatment. Our union has been working to support this research project through both funds and wide spread education and awareness throughout the world-wide aviation community. We have kept the project going, but more funds are needed. Individual contributions are needed and small contributions from all of us can make the difference in finally putting a stop to the risk of poisonous air in the cabin. Make a contribution now and help spread the word.

Enforcing Open Skies Agreement with Gulf States - Protect our Jobs

Our future is at risk through the largest trade violation in history. Right this minute the Gulf carriers - Qatar, Etihad, and Emirates - are attempting to choke the U.S. airline industry out of business. Qatar and United Arab Emirates are subsidizing their airlines with over $42 billion in the last ten years and this violation is ongoing. This is a direct violation of Open Skies agreements they signed with the U.S. and forces the U.S. aviation industry and aviation workers to compete on a severely un-level playing field against the three predatory Gulf carriers. Every route they flood and force our airlines to cede costs 800 U.S. jobs.

If the U.S. government does nothing about the Gulf states' Open Skies violations, service at all major hub airports will be at risk, and small cities may lose their flights and their connections to other communities. We are calling on the U.S. Department of State and Department of Transportation to meet with Qatar and the UAE to enter consultation on the Open Skies Agreement and negotiate a resolution. You can participate by signing our petition for Fair Skies on afacwa.org. More information on this issue is also available on our website and we encourage you to share with friends and family directly and through social media to encourage them to take action too.

Improving Our Contracts

On June 16th Flight Attendants across all of aviation took part in a day of action to raise awareness that we must Bridge the Gap between the compensation, benefits and work rules for Flight Attendants at mainline and regional airlines. We are all aviation’s first responders and we serve the same passengers on our planes. We cannot allow management to define forty-five percent of the lift under the mainline names to be defined as worth forty percent less. This is a threat to all of our jobs and we must continue efforts to Bridge the Gap. Expect additional actions and keep up with the campaign at afacwa.org.

A month later on July 16th, Flight Attendants around the world hit the picket line in support of negotiations at United, where management has failed to complete the merger after 5 years. With 7 billion dollars in the bank, record profits, executives cashing in and 4 billion dollars allocated to a stock buy back plan, no time has been better to fight for improvements for Flight Attendants.

These negotiations are critical especially in the wake of consolidation. AFA, in partnership with APFA, negotiated a provision in the American contract that will increase wages there too if the United contract is worth more than the American Agreement. This means the United Agreement should raise wages directly for 50,000 Flight Attendants and indirectly for thousands more as we set a new standard in the industry.

We will continue to take action until management negotiates within the reality of record profits and we achieve a contract Flight Attendants can be proud to ratify. Stay up to date on this at OurContract.org.

Wearing our AFA Pin Sends a Strong Message in Support of our Issues

When Flight Attendants wear our AFA pin on the airplane and members of Congress see us, it reinforces what we’re saying on the Hill. It reinforces our action on each of these issues and reminds members of Congress that Flight Attendants are informed and paying attention to their actions. It tells management that we know we have rights and we will enforce them. It tells the world that we are united by more than just the color of the tail of our aircraft. Our union pin means that we are never alone. Wearing our pin reinforces what we want to achieve together, what we need to achieve together. Our pin reinforces our conviction to achieve our goals.

Right now, in support of negotiations Flight Attendants at Mesa, Spirit, United and Frontier have turned our pin red in support of contract negotiations. And at Compass, Frontier and United we have new Local Councils where new officers are wearing the officer pin with a green F in the middle of our AFA pin.

And we welcome our newest AFA members who are coming on the line now at almost every single one of our AFA airlines. The right to wear our union pin is afforded even before Flight Attendants graduate or begin to fly with the protections of a union contract. It is a symbol of solidarity among Flight Attendants and a symbol of our right to speak up about injustice. It doesn’t mean that we agree on every issue, but it does mean that we have more in common than that which could ever divide us and we take pride in the work we do and the life we breathe into making the Friendly Skies come alive.

Cheers to you for all you do every day to make our careers better.

Thank you, and fly safe.

In Solidarity,

Sara Nelson

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