Happy Labor Day


Happy Labor Day, 2014, AFA Members!

Today is often recognized as the end of summer and its busy travel season, a return to school and a day to spend with family. This day is a celebration of you! It is a celebration of the American worker and what we contribute to the prosperity of our economy and the communities where we live and work. This is your day! As you go about your day, take a moment to thank the workers you see today who make it possible for others to have a holiday.

laborday2014.jpgLabor Day grew out of a strike by the American Railway Union in 1894 after the Pullman Company cut the workers’ wages. The resulting boycott spread to a quarter million workers across the country. After thirty workers were killed and President Grover Cleveland called out the Army, the strike ended but the outrage did not. Hoping to ease the lingering discontent, Cleveland and the Congress initiated Labor Day as a federal holiday. So, in a very direct sense, Labor Day is indeed about unions and about workers.

There’s a reason the vast majority of flight attendants and other airline employees are union members. Airline workers learn very quickly that without a strong union contract they have no rights and no job security.

As Flight Attendants we are one of the most organized professions around the world. For nearly 70 years Flight Attendant advocates have organized to be sure that we have a meaningful voice in aviation. We beat back age, gender and weight discrimination. We took on Big Tobacco and we won to achieve no smoking on our flights. We set minimum standards for staffing and improved cabin safety regulations. And we took the lead on promoting domestic partner benefits.

More recently we have achieved recognition for Flight Attendants in the TSA Known Crewmember alternate screening program and OSHA health and safety standards in the cabin. We succeeded in keeping knives out of the aircraft cabin and we are currently working to ensure terrorists cannot use mobile broadband technology to coordinate attacks. We continue to press forward on our careers as we negotiate our contracts.

A solid majority of U.S. workers consistently tell pollsters that they would like to belong to join a union if their employer would simply not interfere. The billion dollar union-busting industry literally works every day to tear us apart, make us believe that we should be at odds with one another. Since the current unionization rate is about 12% of the workforce, that means over 40% of American workers want a union but do not have one. With all the vilification, it’s easy to forget the many benefits commonly enjoyed by all workers that were hard won accomplishments of unions: the 8-hour day, paid sick leave, the weekend, paid vacations, minimum wage, child labor laws, workplace safety legislation, retirement security, and many more.

Enjoy this Labor Day, and wherever you are, celebrate our work as aviation’s first responders. Celebrate all we have done to help shape our industry. Wear your AFA pin with pride and demonstrate to another AFA member that you have their back. Together we have always been stronger – and that is what we celebrate today too.

Today we honor our history and look forward to what will be achieved by this generation’s membership of the Association of Flight Attendants, aviation’s first responders.

Happy Labor Day.

In Solidarity,

Sara Nelson, President
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO

Debora Sutor, Vice President
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO

Kevin Creighan, Secretary-Treasurer
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO

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