SECURE OUR SKIES ACT This legislation will save lives
Flight Attendants Achieve Introduction of Legislation Aimed at Stopping Human Trafficking (AFA media report)
Washington, DC (February 2, 2016) — The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) today praised the introduction of the Secure Our Skies Act to fight human trafficking with proper training for aviation workers, led by U.S. Representatives Dina Titus (D-NV-01) and Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10).
“As aviation’s first responders we are charged with the safety, health and security of the passengers in our care,” said AFA International President Sara Nelson. “Traffickers steal lives. But for a window of time, we can see it and report it. Millions of innocent victims are trafficked throughout the world each year, and many are transported on our planes. We are proud to work with Representatives Titus and Comstock to move this important legislation to reality in our workplace. With proper training we can be 100,000 eyes in skies saving lives.”
The bill requires training for flight attendants, pilots and dispatchers of air carriers to to identify and report human trafficking.
“Human trafficking doesn’t happen just on the ground. That’s why members of the airline industry are in a strong position to help stop these crimes,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-01). “The SOS Act will close off the skies to traffickers by providing training to professionals who know their way around aircraft. I thank the nation’s flight attendants for their commitment to fighting these heinous crimes. They know we have to spot the signs to stop the crimes.”
The infrastructure and training mechanisms are already in place through the Department of Transportation’s Blue Lightning Initiative, launched almost three years ago on June 6, 2013. Blue Lightning teaches airline personnel on a voluntary basis about common circumstances with human trafficking in order to recognize and report these instances to law enforcement for swift action. AFA launched a public campaign on June 1, 2015 to promote the provisions of the SOS Act.
“It is critical that we are ever vigilant in the fight against the heinous crime of human trafficking,” said Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10). “Every day, flight attendants see and interact with children on the thousands of flights across our country and throughout the world. They are the eyes and ears in this constant battle, and this legislation will give them the tools
to save the most vulnerable in our society and fight this terrible scourge. I want to thank Congresswoman Titus for working in a bipartisan manner on this important legislation.”
“Everyone immediately recognizes the horror of human trafficking, but we must turn our outrage into concrete action to stop it,” Nelson concluded.
See Rep. Dina Titus introduce the bill on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUhhhCiWWGU
UPDATE ON THE FAA REAUTHORIZATION PROCESS
February saw the introduction of the much awaited FAA Reauthorization bill. I have included Gov Affairs Director Steve Schembs comprehensive update and explanation on the bill as it moves through Congress:
FEB 26, 2016 – The FAA Reauthorization Bill has been introduced in the House, reviewed and adopted by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as amended. Our 10 hours rest between duty periods and a Fatigue Risk Management Plan are included in the bill as well a AFA-promoted issues listed at the end of this update.
Now the Senate is writing its version of the bill, which is expected to be introduced in the coming days. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee “mark-up” will likely be scheduled prior to their Easter recess starting March 18th. This means committee action could take place on the very day of our March 16th Rally for Rest. Regardless, the Rally is well timed and it is assisting us in promoting inclusion of our rest/fatigue language. If you have not already RSVP’d, we encourage you to do that now: https://cdn.afacwa.org/ issues/rest/.
Once both House and Senate bills are introduced and adopted by the respective committees, each full chamber must also vote on the bill. Amendments could also be considered during this process, although sometimes the bill can only be considered as adopted by the committee.
Next, a conference between the House and Senate is held to write common language. This final version of the bill must again be adopted by both chambers before going to the President’s desk for signature. We must remain engaged throughout the process and continue to use the power of our numbers to take action in support of rest and recognition of Flight Attendant fatigue.
The FAA Reauthorization bill is must-pass legislation, although our experience shows this might include several extensions before the long-term bill is passed. Getting our rest provisions in these base bills now sets a foundation for inclusion in the final passage of the bill regardless of when that actually occurs.
This week AFA has ramped up our advocacy to the U.S. Senator’s writing the FAA Bill; Sen. John Thune (ND), Sen. Kelly Ayote (NH), Sen. Bill Nelson (FL), Senator Maria Cantwell (WA), Senator Cory Gardner (CO) and all of the members of the Senate Commerce Committee.
Thanks to a massive effort for calls from members, and special thanks to AFA Frontier for relentless efforts in generating calls from Colorado, we are making good progress with the Senate. But we can’t let up for a second. We have to keep up calls next week and right up to the point of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee vote on their version of the bill.
At the Rally for Rest on March 16, hundreds of Flight Attendants will urge members of the Senate to include the 10 hours minimum rest and a Fatigue Risk Management Plan into the Senate bill. We will also go to every House office to encourage support of our rest in the FAA Reauthorization bill and thank members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for recognizing the importance rest plays in supporting our health and the tools necessary to fulfill our duties as aviation’s first responders.
CWA NEXT GEN AT JOBS WITH JUSTICE
Government Affairs Committee members Kris Hall and Drew Lemish were the AFA representatives at the Jobs with Justice Next Generation conference in Washington DC, Feb. 12th and 13th.
JWJ activists joined sessions on organizing, social media, innovations in the labor movement, grassroots fundraising and much more as part of JWJ’s two-day national conference. CWA Next Generation leaders were on hand as former CWA President Larry Cohen was recognized for his years of building JWJ and his commitment to democracy and working families. (CWA Media report).
Kris had this to say about the experience: “I found it profoundly educational- every workshop, every caucus, every conversation. I made so many connections, met and listened to so many stories, discussed so many concerns that would not have been possible without JwJ!”
MEC Government Affairs Chairperson