Airline Workers Demand Obama to Veto ‘Flag of Convenience’ Foreign Airline

WASHINGTON—Airline workers and pilots from three unions, Machinists, Communications Workers, Transport Workers and Flight Attendants descended on and picketed in front of the White House against letting a “flag of convenience” foreign airline serve the continent while undercutting U.S. airline jobs and standards.

Workers and union leaders explained NAI’s cut-rate business model would endanger U.S. jobs and U.S. air passengers, too. They want Democratic President Barack Obama to veto NAI’s application.

The protest was also aimed at Congress, where a growing coalition of 200+ lawmakers backs legislation, HR5090, to command Obama’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reverse course and dump its “show cause” order that could let NAI eventually fly into the country.

NAI has applied to the FAA to fly from virtually any destination in Europe to any U.S. international airport. Its big selling point is cheap, cheap fares. But the way it achieves them is illegal under the U.S.-Europe “open skies” aircraft pact.

NAI breaks the pact’s standards by registering a subsidiary in Ireland, and that subsidiary hires pilots, crews, flight attendants and service personnel in Southeast Asian nations such as Thailand with no airline labor standards at all. The result is rock-bottom pay and safety and quality questions, TTD says.

If NAI gets let into the U.S., other airlines will follow that flag of convenience model and the U.S. domestic airline industry – along with the half a million middle-class jobs it supports – will be decimated, the speakers said.

“We move America! We move 360 million voters every year! Our jobs matter!” declared Association of Flight Attendants-CWA President Sara Nelson. “What they’re talking about here is about creating a system where we don’t matter. They’re hiring the cheapest workers from around the world.”

If Obama doesn’t act, speakers said, Congress must.

Legislation by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., and HR5090 by Reps. Vic DeFazio, D-Ore., Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., Rick Larsen, D-Wash., and Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., would ban a federal OK for any foreign airline from serving the U.S. unless that carrier meets worker rights standards written into the text of the U.S.-Europe airline pact.

Source: PAI