Happy Labor Day Flight Attendants!

Happy Labor Day Flight Attendants!

September 2, 2018

This is your day – fought and won by unions! For Aviation’s First Responders it’s another day at the office, but 16.5 million people are traveling over this holiday because unions made it possible to celebrate the work of the people who protect, teach, move, and innovate America. This is our day! If it were not for our unions, there would be no Labor Day.

This U.S. holiday is a celebration of working women and men joining together to collectively bargain for a fair wage, humane schedules, health and safety on the job, and benefits that allow us to care for our families. We are not motivated by golden parachutes that pay whether we perform our jobs well or not; we are moved by the pride we take in a job well done, the means to provide for our families and the joy we feel when taking care of others. Unions allow us to take care of each other.

Polls show that two-thirds of Americans have a favorable view of unions, yet persistent attacks on unions have succeeded in taking away the power of working people and diminishing union membership down to just over ten percent of the American workforce. A new policy agenda published by the Economic Policy Institute called, “First Day Fairness: An agenda to build worker power and ensure job quality” sets out what we need to do to change the ever growing disparity of wealth – to reclaim the value that we bring to American business and our economy. Read the full report and encourage your friends and neighbors to join unions!

Unions exist in order to address big issues, issues that individual workers cannot begin to address on their own. Together we turned a job steeped in sexism, ageism and many other "isms" into a career through one contract negotiations after another, legislative advancements and wins in our courts. We removed smoking from our planes, stopped the removal of two exit doors on the 747, kept knives off our planes, and added OSHA standards to the cabin. Today, we are fighting for contract gains, proper rest, cabin temperature standards, stopping the circulation of toxins in our cabin air, and keeping competition fair in global aviation. We are fighting for our jobs, to lift the standards for all of aviation’s first responders and to keep our workplace safe and secure. Without unions, we wouldn’t have the ability to fight for laws and regulations that give workers rights, and without unions, we wouldn’t have the ability to exercise these rights.

Our rights are never absolute. They exist because generations of workers died to give us these rights. They were shot down at Homestead, Pennsylvania and in the hills of West Virginia. They were hanged for the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, and beaten on an overpass near Detroit – all for taking a stand for the rights of working people. There were beatings at Stonewall and murders in San Francisco City Hall. These activists thought it was important enough to stand up against all odds and put everything on the line to make it better for their families – and for our families. Today it’s our turn.

Corporate executives today don’t turn on us with guns and clubs and bombs. They let their supporters in the Congress and in state houses across the country do their dirty work. They use their lawyers to try to strip us of our rights. And as long as we believe our issues are unique, and social issues are not also economic issues, they will get away with it.

The only check against corporate greed, the only chance we have to defend our laws and the promise of America for us all to be free is to love ourselves and our families by loving our union. And that means fighting within our unions to challenge our imperfections, to make a more perfect union. We have to recognize that there are lots of people walking around wounded by the discrimination and harassment they have faced in their own lives, often alone and out of public view. Imagine how much stronger we can be if we check our biases and look for leaders in every gender, race, culture, and creed. It doesn't matter who we love, as long as we LOVE.

There is so much that may seem out of our control today, but there is a lot that can change for the better if we recognize the power of standing together. We have more public contact than any other job. That’s a lot of power if we focus our goals. First and foremost, those in power need to know that Flight Attendants vote! We will take whatever action is necessary, but we also always VOTE. This is public record. Our representatives know if we take part in our democracy or not. One of the most important ways to gain the attention of those in elected office is to make sure your vote is cast every Election Day.

While you’re setting your plan to ensure you’re registered and able to vote this fall, you can make a difference through another simple action. Take time to recognize the contributions of a flying partner: every voice, every action by one has meaning for us all. Tell someone – thank you, it's nice to work with you. The truth is, being together is the best part of this job. Happy Labor Day!

We are Stronger and Better Together.

Thank you and fly safe,

Sara Nelson
International President

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