Get the Facts: Bernstein and California Meal and Rest Break

Get the Facts: Bernstein and California Meal and Rest Break

July 17, 2022 - The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in June that affirmed that Flight Attendants in California have access to the same labor laws that other California workers benefit from. Airline management had appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling in the case of Bernstein v. Virgin America.

Management has been heralding a "sky is falling" public relations campaign intended to deny us our rights in every state. Aviation is unique and we address issues with management all the time at the bargaining table and through legislative solutions. All it takes to ensure our rights are upheld and the operation is not negatively effected is for airline management to work with us on a solution.

AFA will hold a virtual union meeting for Flight Attendants only on July 20th at 5pm eastern. Hear from AFA International President Sara Nelson, AFA General Counsel Joe Burns, and other experts on the facts surrounding the Bernstein case and what it means for Flight Attendants in California.

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California state law requires employers based in the state to provide breaks during a work shift that are sufficient for accessing a meal and breaks for physiological needs. Flight Attendants who were based in California sued Virgin America and won first in federal district court and subsequently at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

In an effort to address the potential implications of Bernstein, AFA International wrote to the heads of all the major airlines and to the CEO of the industry trade group Airlines for America (A4A) to make clear our position. In those letters, AFA expressed our commitment to working with industry to accommodate operational needs while also securing appropriate meal and rest breaks for Flight Attendants.

It’s really simple. Flight Attendants need to eat during the course of their work day. We are human and we have basic needs like every other worker. We also know the realities of aviation and there’s no reason we can’t come to an agreement with the airlines for a legislative technical fix that allows airlines to comply with California meal and rest rules while maintaining the operation. We are ready to resolve this, and we hope they will get serious with us about doing that now too.

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