United MEC Government Affairs Committee Update

Date: August 31, 2014
Type: Report


One of the multiple responsibilities of the Government Affairs Committee is to create informed Flight Attendant activists who will communicate with their elected officials.  One effective way for getting Flight Attendants to understand and become more involved in the political process is by encouraging them to vote.  The United MEC has been holding voter registration/voter information drives on company property every two years ever since we won a grievance for this ability in 1985.  

Our goal of more Flight Attendant participation and making sure that the Flight Attendant voice is heard at the ballot box starts with the Local Council.  It is essential for Local Councils to take an active role in ensuring that Flight Attendants around the globe understand the importance of this Midterm Election and have the information needed to cast their ballot this November. 


There is no right more fundamental than the right to vote in our democracy.  Voting is the foundation of all of our other rights.  Our voter registration/information drives help to ensure that Flight Attendants have the information they need to exercise this most fundamental right, by providing them information on registering and voting.   The first step in our drives is to confirm that eligible voters are registered.  The next step is to ensure that Flight Attendants are familiar with the options available for absentee and early voting, where they live.   

Recent efforts to limit a person’s right to vote, as well as the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are putting at risk the ability of Americans to cast their vote.  State legislatures across the country are passing laws limiting access to Early and Absentee voting and requiring voters to have government issued photo IDs.  In addition, states are purging their voter registration lists so it will be critical for us to ensure Flight Attendants are verifying their voter registration status or re-registering if they have moved to a new address or legally changed their name.  

Know the registration deadline:   Most states require citizens to register 15 to 30 days before the federal election.  A complete list of voter registration deadlines by state is included with this report.  Flight Attendants can register by filling out their state’s registration form or the National Mail Voter Registration Form which can be downloaded at www.eac.gov. 

Flight Attendants residing overseas should register by filling out the Federal Post Card Application, which is available at www.fvap.gov.  This form should be submitted at least 45 days before the election. 

Follow registration instructions carefully:  It is important that registration forms are filled in completely and legibly.  If critical information is missing, such as a signature or address, a form could be rejected. 

Flight Attendants who have moved should update their registration:  Any time a voter moves they must reregister with their new elections board. 

Confirm registration with elections office:  Flight Attendants who have registered/reregistered this election cycle, and did not receive an official confirmation, should call their local elections office to confirm they are in fact registered.  It is important to do this before the state’s registration deadline to ensure there is time to reregister, if necessary.  

Flight Attendants who want to verify their voter registration status can do so at www.canivote.org.  

Requesting an absentee ballot:  Due to the nature of our schedules, Flight Attendants are eligible, in most states, to vote by absentee ballot.  Flight Attendants may request an absentee ballot by contacting their local county or city election official.  A request for an absentee ballot may be made in-person, by mail, by phone or by FAX, depending on where a Flight Attendants lives.  An application for an absentee ballot may also be downloaded through the League of Women Voters at www.vote411.org  or through www.longdistancevoter.org. 

What is early voting:  To help people who cannot make it to the polls on Election Day, a number of states offer early voting (aka in-person absentee voting).  This is different form absentee voting because you have to actually go somewhere to vote, but you can do it a few weeks early.  Usually the local government will set up certain times and locations for early voting.  Early voting information can be accessed through the Search by State and & Topic Tab at www.vote411.org 


Our legislative gains form the foundation we rely on for negotiating strong contracts, as does the political climate in Washington, DC.  The next Congress will decide whether many of the issues which impact our job security and our safety, health and security at work will become law.  Preventing cabotage, increased foreign ownership and outsourcing of our work; keeping dangerous weapons off the aircraft; maintaining the ban on cell phone calls inflight; Flight Attendant security training; and addressing Flight Attendant fatigue remain priorities on our legislative agenda but we need the help of legislators who understand and support these issues to accomplish our goals. 

Control of the United States Senate will depend on races in Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Oregon.  If right-wing Republicans take control of the Senate this November we will be back on the defensive fighting nation-right-to-work; baseball-style arbitration and other anti-Union initiatives.


U.S. Representatives Dave McKinley (R-WV) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) have drafted a letter to the department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission urging these four federal agencies to work collaboratively to ensure all safety and security concerns raised by the introduction of wireless communication capabilities are identified and fully addressed.  Their letter also urges the continued ban on voice calls on commercial aircraft.

Urgent Action Will Be Needed

Once this letter has been finalized Representatives McKinley and Lipinski will be circulating it, along with a Dear Colleague letter, asking all members of the U.S. House of Representatives to sign-on to the letter.   After the Dear Colleague has been circulated AFA will send an “e-mail blast communication” to all 435 members of the House and AFA Government Affairs Committee Members will be asked to contact Congressional offices by e-mail and/or phone urging support for the McKinley/Lipinski letter. 


The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, along with several transportation unions and bipartisan lawmakers, continues to call on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to reject Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) pending application for trans-Atlantic service.  

Currently, the DOT is reviewing NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit.  NAI’s business model threatens to undercut labor standards in the United and Europe by circumventing worker protections, evading international labor laws and creating unfair competition for airlines covered under the Open Skies agreement. 


We would like to take a moment to remember Bill McGlashen, former America West MEC President, Assistant to AFA International President Pat Friend and Chair of the AFA Legislative/Political Policy Committee.  Bill passed away suddenly, earlier this month.  Bill was extraordinary to work with and Debbie shared many long days preparing for AFA’s annual Legislative Conference alongside Bill.  Bill’s gentle and kind spirit, calm manner, and political acumen made him an incredible asset to AFA.  Bill will be missed by all who knew him. 

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