After months of delays, the Senate managed to finally move forward on its FAA reauthorization bill – setting up expected negotiations with the House on final legislation that would advance several of TWU’s pro-worker goals.
The Senate “marked up” it’s version of reauthorization legislation on Thursday. It mirrors the House version, adopted last year, with regards to two major TWU priorities: raising standards at foreign aircraft maintenance facilities to close safety gaps – and significantly reduce economic incentives for U.S. airlines that now offshore such work to other countries.
In another potential win, neither bill includes language sought by air carriers to preempt state and local labor laws. Preemption would have allowed airlines to deny employees hard-won legislative advances, such as mandatory paid sick days, meal breaks, and rest periods.
The TWU has strenuously advocated for other changes. Several of them are in one or both versions of the bill moving towards House-Senate negotiations. They include:
• Requiring an airline’s training program include self-defense and de-escalation training for Flight Attendants.
• Requiring airlines submit assault prevention and response plans to the FAA.
• Limiting remote dispatching – airline workers directing air traffic from home – to emergencies only.
• Requiring the FAA to develop a standardized system for crews to report the existence of in-cabin fumes and to research air-monitoring techniques.
• Requiring the FAA to provide airlines guidance regarding crewmembers needing to express milk during flights.
TWU International President John Samuelsen said the successful markup is a “great development” but the the House and Senate “must seal the deal and pass final legislation.”
“Finally! This is a great development. But both houses of Congress must seal the deal and pass final legislation. Our front-line airline flight attendants and boots-on-the ground mechanics have been waiting far too long for Congress to adopt critically important measures needed to address long-standing problems – like unhinged passengers attacking and abusing crewmembers, and greedy airline executives sending aircraft to questionable repair shops in China, and other low-wage countries, for maintenance and repairs.”
“The Senate and House bills both have provisions that will make our national air space safer, improve the working conditions of our critically important airline workers, and return good, union jobs to the U.S. It’s time to get it done.”
“No one should have to be afraid of being punched or cursed out on the job, worry about where their plane was repaired, or fear their job will be given to a lesser qualified worker overseas. ”