Yesterday (November 30, 2017), the AFA Alaska Master Executive Council (MEC) published the following statement from Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA:
For too long unacceptable sexual innuendo, harassment advances, and assault have been a silent epidemic in our society and certainly on our planes. We applaud any victim who comes forward to call out this behavior and in this case we also applaud Alaska Airlines for taking swift corrective action and working with the Flight Attendants who provided critical information on the incident in order to address it even with few tools to manage these incidents inflight.
Alaska’s response is to be commended, but let’s be clear that this is not an Alaska problem. It is an issue at the forefront of national awareness and it is a critical time for the airline industry to examine the steps necessary to take this on and lift the veil on the issue before bad behavior or a crime ensues.
Sexual harassment is far too common in the aircraft cabin and sexual assault on planes must be identified as a unique crime with specific response. AFA conducted a member survey last year and results showed the majority of Flight Attendants have no knowledge of written guidance and/or training on this specific issue available through their airline. The industry and regulators need to come together to develop policies and tools to respond to these incidents onboard. And industry leaders need to speak out clearly with a zero tolerance policy.
Unfortunately, the following sentence from AFA’s statement has been misconstrued in some local and national media outlets as referring specifically to Alaska Airlines: “AFA conducted a member survey last year and results showed the majority of Flight Attendants have no knowledge of written guidance and/or training on this specific issue available through their airline.” The onboard sexual assault survey was in fact released to all AFA members at all represented carriers and is not specific to Alaska. You can read more about the survey results on page 30 of Sara’s International President’s Report for the 45th Annual AFA-CWA Board of Directors Meeting.
The AFA Alaska Master Executive Council did not intend for any parties to infer that our union’s statement was a commentary about the adequacy of Flight Attendant training at Alaska Airlines. We are working with the AFA Communications department to correct the record in the media. AFA Alaska will partner with management in the coming weeks and months to review and improve our company’s response to reports of onboard sexual harassment and assault brought forward by passengers—and by our Flight Attendants.
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Linda Christou, Lisa Pinkston, Terry Taylor, Mario de’Medici, Melissa Osborne, Tim Green and Brice McGee