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Groundbreaking FAA Reauthorization Promises Gains For Flight Attendants

Date: September 20, 2007

Washington, DCFlight attendants today made significant headway in improving workplace safety and health when the United States House of Representatives passed a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) applauded the House's efforts to ensure that flight attendant specific provisions were included in the final bill, H.R. 2881.

"Today, Congress set a mandate that flight attendants deserve workplace safety and health requirements that protect those of us whose office is 30,000 feet in the air," said Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. "This is a victory for our over 55,000 members who reached out to their Congressional leaders time after time to tell them that important flight attendant provisions, such as those included in the FAA Reauthorization, must make their way into law and cannot continue to be ignored."

There are several important provisions included in the FAA Reauthorization that AFA-CWA has repeatedly requested for years. For the first time in over 30 years, a requirement for workplace safety and health protections for flight attendants was finally recognized. Flight attendants suffer numerous occupational injuries and illnesses while working aboard commercial flights at rates several times higher than those for all private industry workers, yet are not covered under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.  

The FAA Reauthorization also states that the FAA must institute a HIMS, or "Return to the Cabin" Program, that will allow flight attendants an opportunity for rehabilitation after testing positive for drug or alcohol abuse.  The House also instructed the FAA to complete studies on flight attendant fatigue and continue sampling and analyzing onboard cabin air. The FAA must also initiate a study of actual onboard temperatures to determine if regulations are necessary to mandate standard temperatures onboard aircraft.  

Protection for seniority integration in case of an airline merger was also included. This provision will help to ensure that, in the event of an airline merger, all employees are treated fairly and one group is not stapled to the bottom of the merged seniority list. Additionally, the bill mandates that airlines must notify passengers upon ticket purchase if their aircraft is subject to pesticide spraying.

"We owe our gratitude to all the Representatives who took the time to listen to our members and see that for far too long, flight attendants have been denied the basic workplace protection that millions of other employees in the country take for granted," said Friend.

For over 60 years, the Association of Flight Attendants has been serving as the voice for flight attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill.  More than 55,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines come together to form AFA-CWA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org. 

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