United MEC Government Affairs Committee Update

Date: January 15, 2014
Type: Report

Happy New Year! 

With our continued legislative campaigns to keep knives and cellular voice calls off our aircraft, disastrous U.S. trade negotiations, protecting voting rights for Americans at home and living abroad, a dysfunctional Congress that insists on repealing the Affordable Health Care Act rather than debating important economic issues to support working families and the all-important November 2014 Mid Term Elections on the horizon, 2014 is shaping up to be a very busy year. 


The United MEC Government Affairs Committee training has been scheduled for February 18-19, 2014 in Washington, DC. 

The training will have an emphasis on our legislative agenda, relationship building with Congressional offices, local In-District lobbying, grassroots and FlightPAC.   We will begin to schedule lobby appointments the week of January 20.,

The tentative agenda includes classroom instruction Tuesday, Feb. 18 morning; House lobby visits Feb. 18 afternoon;  group dinner Feb 18; Senate lobby visits Feb. 19 morning; debriefing and classroom Feb. 19.  The training will conclude around 3PM Feb. 19.  A complete agenda as well as additional training information will be e-mailed to all participants. 


As AFA joins forces with CWA to create the best possible future for our Members, we will be expanding our traditional political scope by getting involved in the CWA state and district political programs.  Historically, AFA's political engagement has been at the national level, on presidential and congressional elections, promoting officials who support our Flight Attendant profession and working families. 

We now have an exciting opportunity to take advantage of CWA's Political Leadership Boot Camps.  The Boot Camp is designed to instill and strengthen the skills of political activists at the local, district and state level in the framework of building a movement for economic and social justice.  Boot camp subjects include political economy, labor history, contemporary wedge issues and political campaign.   

The next intensive Boot Camp training will be held in Houston, TX on February 10-11, 2014, where CWA has created positions for AFA-CWA Texas Political Activists in CWA District 6. AFA Members selected to participate in this program will be expected to commit to the CWA political program in Texas to broaden and strengthen the AFA and CWA grassroots network in Texas.   AFA Members who reside in Texas have been invited to complete an application form.  Debbie will be attending this Boot Camp. 


We continue our education program around the far reaching and toxic trade agreement that the United States is currently negotiating with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam --- the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP).  Although TPP negotiators have gone to great lengths to limit public knowledge about the deal, opposition to TPP is growing. 

Like nearly every trade deal negotiated in the past 20 years TPP ignores the economic well-being of working families.  TPP is part of the overall corporate and Wall Street agenda to make the world a safe haven for corporate investment and profits by reducing labor costs; undercutting workers' rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health care, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge U.S. laws in special international tribunals rather than our own court system. 

The lobbyists for the giant multi-national corporation negotiating TPP are now trying to convince our U.S. Senators and Representatives to pass Fast Track Promotion Authority so they can speed this secret deal through Congress.   Under fast track members of Congress would give up their right to discuss or improve this dangerous deal. 

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) have introduced legislation that would allow for fast track authorization of the TPP.   This legislation would deny Congress the ability to amend and improve TPP and other trade agreements that affect our laws, our jobs, our food safety and our environment. 

We cannot allow an agreement of such magnitude to sail through Congress unchecked. 


CWA has established a toll free number to directly connect you to your member of Congress:   1-866-937-4359.  Or you can call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask to be connected to your U.S. Representative.  

Sample Phone Script: 

"As a constituent and a Member of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, I am calling to strongly urge Representative __________________ to oppose Fast Track for the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement.   Congress needs to have the chance to review and amend this massive trade agreement. 

Congress should say NO TO FAST TRACK and say yes to stronger worker, consumer and environmental standards n trade deals.  Thank you." 

CWA is coordinating a series of actions throughout the month of January, including contacting members of Congress, rallies at congressional in-district offices, educational webinars for CWA and AFA leaders, leafleting and tele-town halls.  The CALAFA MEC will be lobbying Congress at the end of the month. 

January 22 will be a National Day of Action to stop fast track.


Last July, the United States and the European Union (EU) began formal negotiations on a free trade agreement known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).  This free trade agreement will "seek improved market access on trade in services and more." 

What makes negotiations on T-TIP so troubling for aviation workers is the EU's longstanding insistence on including air traffic rights in trade negotiations as part of their continued efforts to open up the U.S. domestic market to cabotage and to increase the level of foreign investment and control of U.S. airlines.   

The third round of negotiations on T-TIP took place in Washington, D.C. on December 16-20, 2013. 


On January 15, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began its official 60-day comment period as part of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to consider lifting the 1991 prohibition against cellular service on flights.  The current rules, which were designed to prevent harmful interference to wireless networks on the ground, restrict use of mobile devices operating over certain wireless frequencies. 

Special equipment (called an "airborne access system") that can be installed directly on an airplane is now available to prevent such interference.  Based on these technologies, the FCC is considering whether these advances no longer warrant the prohibition of inflight mobile phone use. 

The FCC will collect and carefully review consumer and technical input before taking any final action to potentially change the existing ban.  AFA's Government Affairs and Air Safety, Health and Security will be developing talking points to assist AFA Members in submitting comments.   Government Affairs Committee Members and activists are encouraged to submit their comments at http://www.fcc.gov/rulemaking/13-157  

You may also access the public comment page through the FCC website at www.fcc.gov


FlightPAC is AFA's Political Action Committee and was established to formalize our organized political influence.  Through voluntary contributions to FlightPAC, AFA Members help financially support the campaigns of our friends and allies in Congress.  FlightPAC gives support to candidates who are committed to helping us accomplish our legislative goals.

FlightPAC is non-partisan.  When it comes to endorsing members of Congress who are supportive of our issues, party affiliation is irrelevant.  What is relevant is the candidate's commitment to Flight Attendants, safe and secure aviation policy and labor issues. 

FlightPAC endorsements are made by AFA's FlightPAC Steering Committee, made up of AFA International Officers and the AFA Political/Legislative Policy Committee.  Any contribution to a candidate's campaign is made after a thorough examination of the candidates completed FlightPAC questionnaire.  The questionnaire is sent to the candidate by request.

AFA may be invited to events sponsored by the candidate either before or after a FlightPAC endorsement, providing AFA with exposure to the candidate.  These events are often held locally.  We encourage you, if you are able, to contribute to FlightPAC.  A FlightPAC contribution form can be downloaded from our website  www.unitedafa.org 

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