In a blow to U.S. aviation workers, the Department of Transportation (DOT) on Friday granted Norwegian Air International (NAI) a permit to fly to the United States. TWU vehemently opposes this decision. After an election focused on protecting American jobs, the White House has decided to threaten the entire U.S. aviation industry.
NAI is a low fare airline with a corporate structure designed to avoid labor, tax, and regulatory laws. It uses a “flag of convenience” scheme that allows the company to hire employees under the laws of low wage countries with few labor protections.
TWU has fought against NAI since 2014, when the airline first filed an application to operate service between Europe and the U.S. The union lobbied Congress, filed multiple objections with DOT and protested against NAI at the White House as part of an international coalition of labor unions and airlines, which all believe that the NAI model poses a threat to good airline jobs.
The U.S.-European Union Air Transport Agreement (a trade agreement for airlines) bars new air services that “undermine labor standards or the labor-related rights and principles contained in the Parties’ respective laws.” By approving NAI’s application, DOT has ignored these labor standards in favor of an unfair trade scheme that will threaten American airline jobs.
NAI, a subsidiary of Norwegian Air Shuttle, was incorporated in Ireland to avoid Norway’s strong regulatory and employment laws. This would enable it to evade collective bargaining agreements and unfairly undercut wages and labor standards. This is similar to the flag of convenience corporate model that destroyed the U.S. maritime industry, which employed 100,000 Americans in 1960 but has less than 2,500 U.S. workers today.
TWU joins with other labor unions in calling on the White House and Congress to reverse this decision.