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Passenger and Flight Attendant Lives at Risk Without Security Training

Date: January 20, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC –The following is a statement from Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, International President Patricia Friend.

“On the eve of the President’s State of the Union Address, it has been widely publicized that President Bush will focus on homeland security. But make no mistake, this administration’s rhetoric on security, especially airline security, has been long on lip service but short on action.

“Recent government warnings about intelligence that Al-Qaeda is again targeting aircraft, coupled with this fall’s General Accounting Office report showing that guns, knives and box cutters still routinely make it through airport security checkpoints without being detected, should serve as a wake up call to this Administration and to the Congressional Republican leadership.

“The Bush Administration’s repeated promises to focus on homeland security after the tragic events of September 11, 2001 have been hollow for flight attendants who show up to work each day without sufficient training to protect themselves or their passengers in the event of another terrorist attack onboard an aircraft. President Bush has allowed his party’s leadership in the House of Representatives to gut efforts to provide meaningful security training by allowing corporate special interests to put their profit margins ahead of the flying public’s safety.

“Because the Bush Administration and Republican House leadership have refused to accept the responsibility to mandate and fund the kind of comprehensive, industry-wide training flight attendants and passengers need, airline management does whatever is cheapest and easiest when it comes to flight attendant security training. Corporate airline lobbyists have tried every trick in the book to not spend money on life saving training for flight attendants--from opposing mandatory standards to requesting that flight attendants pay for security training out of their own pockets. The airlines and President Bush’s TSA have been successful in using loopholes to avoid providing anything more than minimal training that mocks the law.

“Currently, domestic airlines only need to provide two hours of security training to qualify as TSA approved and international carriers only need to provide four hours. These already dangerously low standards are in jeopardy of being eroded further without a standardized training program provided by the TSA for all airlines to follow. Under airline pressure, the TSA has already granted waivers to further reduce the minimum two to four hours of training provided, and some carriers have asked for security training components to be moved into home study packets. Carriers are not required and often do not offer any hands on training to their flight attendants.

“The opportunity for another deadly attack on a U.S. aircraft is blatantly obvious. Aircraft are still targets and deadly weapons can still make it through security—but more than two years after the September 11 attacks, the nation’s flight attendants are no better prepared to protect ourselves or our passengers than we were in 2001. President Bush needs to back up his lofty rhetoric with meaningful action from his administration.”

More than 46,000 flight attendants join together to form AFA, the world’s largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000 member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org.

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