United MEC Government Affairs Committee Update

Date: August 22, 2013
Type: Report


In breaking news this week, the Obama Administration's Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final policy for improving our workplace safety and health.  This enormous achievement was due in part to the tireless work and persistent lobby efforts of our Government Affairs Committee activists and our Safety, Health and Security Committee.    

Through the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress required the FAA to develop a policy statement to outline the circumstances in which OSHA requirements could apply to Flight Attendants while working onboard aircraft.  This legislative language solidified the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by FAA and OSHA during the Clinton Administration. 

While the FAA' aviation safety regulations take precedence, OSHA will be able to enforce certain occupational safety and health standards currently not covered by FAA oversight.  This cooperative agreement between FAA and OSHA will provide many of the safety and health standards that exist in other workplaces. 


DATE:                    September 10, 2013
PLACE:                  Capitol Hill House Office Building (room number TBA)
TIME:                    11:00AM
RSVP:                    Debbie Golombek   at  legislative@unitedafa.org    or 516.353.1532

In 2002, the United States Congress authorized the creation of a national memorial in Pennsylvania, as part of the National Park System, to honor the crewmembers and passengers of Flight 93 who, on September 11, 2001, gave their lives to prevent an attack on the Capital of the United States.  This National Memorial, encompassing the final resting place of the 40 heroes of Flight 93, is a permanent tribute to those aboard whose incredible acts of bravery saved countless lives at the cost of their own.  It is the only national park commemorating the events of September 11, 2001. 

The Flight 93 National Memorial officially opened to the public on September 10, 2010, but still needs to meet its ultimate fundraising goal in order to be completed.  The Coalition of Flight Attendant Unions passed a Resolution to try to raise the remaining funds to complete the Memorial in Shanksville, PA, by asking members of congress to make voluntary personal contributions.  Currently, the Memorial is only $1.7 million shy of full construction funding.  

To help in this effort, on September 10, 2013, we will be distributing a letter to every member of the United States Congress seeking contributions from these elected officials to help complete the Flight 93 National Memorial.  We are asking that each member of Congress set an example by making a personal contribution to the fund.  These letters will be distributed to the Capitol Hill offices of our elected officials. 

Some of the details are still being worked out but we will be distributing materials at an 11:00AM briefing at a meeting room on Capitol Hill and begin distributing letters around 11:30AM.  We anticipate it will take a few hours to distribute these letters and volunteers should be finished around 2:30PM (with enough time for lunch) in time to catch the 5:00PM bank of flights home.  All AFA carriers and our Coalition partners will be invited to help.  AFA's Government Affairs Department is planning this event with the Coalition and Debbie Golombek will be coordinating the United MEC participation. All volunteers are welcome to participate. Please coordinate participation through your Local Council President.


While members of Congress are in their home districts for their 5-week summer break, Local Council Government Affairs Committee Members are scheduling meetings to discuss H.R. 1093, the No Knives Act and S. 1008, the Keep Knives Out of Our Skies Act.  


After months of Republican obstruction that threatened to shut down the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the United States Senate confirmed President Obama's NLRB nominees.  Thanks to all the calls we helped to generate the NLRB now has a full slate of Senate-confirmed members for the first time since 2003. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was set to change Senate rules that would have eliminated filibusters against certain Executive Branch nominees after he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) failed to reach an agreement to move forward on several pending nominations.  Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and a small group of Republican Senators then stepped in to work out a compromise to avoid the "nuclear option." 

Credit for this tremendous victory is largely due to the leadership of the Communication Workers of America (CWA) on the Democracy Initiative.  The Democracy Initiative was launched in 2013 and is a powerful new alliance of labor, civil rights, environmental and good government groups. Founded by CWA, the Sierra Club, the NAACP and Greenpeace, the Democracy Initiative is committed to building a movement to curb the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics, prevent the systemic manipulation and suppression of voters and end the obstruction and abuse of Senate rules.


On August 1, 2013, Nicholas Christopher Geale was confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as the Third Board Member of the National Mediation Board (NMB) for a term expiring July 1, 2016.  Mr. Geale will be filling the seat on the Board vacated by Elizabeth Dougherty, who resigned from the NMB on June 2, 2012.  

Incumbent Member and Chairman Linda Puchala was also re-confirmed for a term expiring July 1, 2015 and Member Harry Hoglander was re-confirmed for a term expiring July 1, 2014.   


Since the Supreme Court's decision invalidating a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, several states are looking to adopt restrictive voting changes.  North Carolina recently passed a restrictive new voting law which is widely being called the most extreme voter suppression law in the country since the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed.  The new North Carolina law requires voters to show a government issued photo ID, reduces early voting, eliminates same day registration and weakens disclosure requirements for campaign advertisements. 

Some states, such as Arizona and Florida have imposed new restrictions on groups that sign up voters for absentee ballots.   Other states are looking at new laws aimed at limiting early and absentee voting using the North Carolina law as a model. 

The United MEC fought hard and won a Grievance to provide our Members with registration and voter information and we will fight attempts to limit early voting, restrict registration and cut voting hours and polling places.  AFA will work with our allies to protect the right to vote for ALL citizens and we are committed to ensuring that Flight Attendants, who are eligible to vote in U.S. elections,  are not deprived of their voice and their vote. 


With Labor Day fast approaching we should try to take some time to remember what we are really celebrating, Labor Day is not just about picnics and barbeques.  Labor Day is a national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the prosperity, strength and well-being of our country. 

This Labor Day we should remember the low wage fast food and retail workers across the country, fighting for an increase in the minimum wage and for the right to be represented by a Union.   As we celebrate the achievements of American workers on Labor Day, we should also commit to continue to fight not only for our own community of Flight Attendants but for economic and social justice for all workers.     

Happy Labor Day! 

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