United MEC Government Affairs Committee Update

Date: April 26, 2012
Type: Report

FAA Reauthorization

The Government Affairs Committee continues our follow-up on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization conference report vote. We are acknowledging the votes of those members of Congress who stood with us and expressing our disappointment with those members of Congress who opposed stripping the anti-labor provisions from the bill.

Our grassroots campaign calling on Congress to remove the anti-labor provision from the FAA reauthorization bill generated numerous follow-up questions from Flight Attendants. Our Members are concerned about the last-minute language that was included in the bill and what needs to be done going forward to have that language changed.

A majority of the messages expressed their disappointment in how their Senator(s) and Representative voted and wanted to know how to express that disappointment. A few questioned why President Obama did not veto the bill. (Unfortunately for us, Congress did not have the necessary support to uphold a presidential veto and would have voted to overturn the veto.) We also helped to respond to one Member’s concern that we had not thanked the Republicans who voted against the bill.

DCA Beyond-Perimeter Routes

Washington National Airport (DCA) is subject to federally-mandated perimeter limitations and may not accommodate non-stop flights to or from cities beyond a 1250 statute mile radius without federally mandated exemptions. The recently passed FAA reauthorization bill provides sixteen beyond-perimeter slot exemptions at DCA.

The bill contains language that allows four of DCA’s incumbent carriers, United, American, Delta and USAirways, to exempt one current round-trip pairing from the perimeter rule and for “new entrant or limited incumbent” carriers to apply for the additional new “beyond-perimeter” slots. Applications for the new slots were filed by Air Canada, Alaska, Frontier, Jet Blue, Southwest, Sun Country and Virgin America. Virgin America has applied for two round-trips DCA-SFO, in direct competition with United, who will begin DCA-SFO service in May 2012.

When it comes to serving slot-controlled airports, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA believes that due consideration must be given to an airlines’ labor practices and that new routes should be awarded to Unionized air carriers. As we all know, low paying non-Union jobs, which provide little or no benefits or job security, undermine the overall quality of life for Union workers. Competitive pressure from low-cost, non-Union carriers, financed by low wages and at-will work rules, threatens the progress made at the bargaining table.

California State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano contacted AFA-CWA Local Council 11 with his concern about Virgin’s aggressive lobbying campaign to gain support for their application. Council 11 responded to Assemblymember Ammiano’s concerns by letter and in-person during lobby days at the California State Capitol. Additionally, the Council 11 Government Affairs Committee sent letters to various federal, state and local legislators about the importance of protecting good Union jobs in the Bay Area.

Flight Attendant Fatigue

The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO adopted a Policy Statement at their Executive Board meeting this month calling for implementation of common sense rules to combat fatigue for flight crews. The Policy Statement supports the Airline First Responder Workplace Fairness Act (H.R. 3824) introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

Known Crew Member

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA continues to advocate for Flight Attendants to be included in the Known Crew Member test program. AFA-CWA International President Veda Shook discussed this issue in a meeting with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, earlier this month. Since the inception of the Department of Homeland Security in 2002 in response to the 9/11 attacks, AFA has been a key partner in aviation security.

In addition, AFA-CWA Vice President Sara Nelson testified before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security about the importance of including Flight Attendants in the Known Crew Member Program. During the hearing, Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-LA) repeatedly expressed her belief that the Known Crew Member Program should be expanded to include Flight Attendants.

The Known Crew Member Program began operating last August at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and provides U.S. pilots an expedited screening process relying on already completed criminal background checks. The program is expanding to additional airports this year. The Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act mandates inclusion of Flight Attendants in any established expedited access through screening checkpoints.

Elections 2012

Upcoming primaries include: Oregon May 15; Pennsylvania May 17; California June 5; New Jersey June 5; Nevada June 12; and Colorado June 26. We will be providing Primary Election registration and early/absentee voting information and deadlines for Local Councils to post on their AFA bulletin boards.

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