- American Airlinesflight attendants are protesting the company’s new, more stringent sick policy and the ongoing trouble with uniforms that employees say are toxic.
- Some flight attendants are unhappy with the airline’s new sick policy, which they call “extremely punitive” in light of the health issues that they claim have been brought on by American’s uniforms.
- On October 1, American Airlines and US Airways flight attendants will work under the same collective-bargaining agreement.
On October 1, American Airlines and US Airways flight attendants will work under the same collective-bargaining agreement since the two carriers merged in 2013 to form the “new” American.
However, a new attendance policy set to get into effect along with the collective-bargaining agreement has led some of American’s flight attendants to protest.
The policy’s stricter regulation of sick days, compounded by the airline’s ongoing trouble with uniforms that employees say are toxic, has led to pushback from the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents more than 27,000 of the company’s cabin crew.
On Thursday, American Airlines flight attendants gathered in front of the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, to protest the policy change.
“It’s time for our company to wake up and understand exactly what’s going on with their 27,000 frontline employees,” Lori Bassani, national president of the APFA, said in a statement. “We are sick from toxic uniforms, sick from cabin fume events, and sick of being given the run-around with the flawed implementation and improperly programmed new scheduling systems.”
According to Bassani, the airline’s new attendance policy, which governs sick leave, is “extremely punitive and does not take into account the unique working conditions flight attendants endure daily.”
“We are exposed to ill passengers, foreign foodborne illnesses, toxic cabin air, unhealthy sleep patterns, radiation exposure, and flight attendants cross multiple time zones, to name just a few,” she added.
In a statement to Business Insider, American Airlines said:
“Our new, combined attendance policy recognizes that life happens and provides our flight attendants with latitude to manage their time away from work. At the same time, it encourages attendance accountability which ensures we’re appropriately staffed to provide our customers with the great service they expect and deserve when flying American.”
Since late 2016, American Airlines flight attendants have complained of severe allergic reactions including extreme respiratory distress, nausea, headaches, cognitive issues, and full-body rashes attributed to the company’s uniforms.
According to a 2017 lawsuit filed by more than 100 of the airline’s flight attendants, chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene, cobalt, cadmium, captafol, chromium, copper, nickel, antimony, benzyl benzoate, hexyl cinnamic aldehyde, and benzaldehyde have been detected in the fabric.
The APFA claims it has received notice of more than 3,500 cases of suspected health reactions tied to the uniforms, which will be replaced in 2020.
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