Report to AFA MEC Chairs
Knives: The Keep Knives out of our Skies Act (H.R. 4368 and S. 1008) is still active bicameral legislation. Building congressional co-sponsor support must remain a top priority.
Introduced on April 7, 2014 as bi-partisan legislation by Representatives Grimm and Gabbard, the bill has three additional co-sponsors (listed as they were added to the bill); Reps. Lipinski, Joyce and Speier. This legislation is companion to the Senate bill S. 1008 which was introduced on May 23, 2013 by Senator Schumer. This bill has three original bi-partisan co-sponsors, Sens. Gilibrand, Menendez and Murkowski and three additional co-sponsors; Sens. Markey, Schatz and Hirono.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS COMMITTEE ACTION: Follow up on any lobby visits you have made on this issue and check in with the offices you visited in the past year. Ask where the Representative or Senators are on this issue and once again encourage them to co-sponsor these bills.
Cell Phones: The Prohibiting In-Flight Voice Communications on Mobile Wireless Devices Act of 2013 H.R. 3676 directs the Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations that prohibit the use of cell phones for voice communications during the in-flight portion of any scheduled domestic commercial flight. The bill provides an exemption for on-duty members of flight and cabin crews, as well as federal law enforcement personnel acting in an official capacity. This bill introduced by Rep. Bill Shuster has 33 co-sponsors (listed as they were added to the bill); Reps. DeFazio, Petri, Michaud, Duncan, Cohen, Capito, Miller, Bucshon, Meehan, Davis, Cooper, Eshoo, Farr, Granger, Grimm, Joyce, Marchant, Schwartz, Williams, Neal, LoBiondo, Capuano, Crawford, Bishop (Tim), Schock, Southerland, Ellison, Womack, Speier, Swallwell, McGovern and Hahn.
The House bill has been passed out of committee and is awaiting a vote by the full House.
The Commercial Flight Courtesy Act (S. 1811) was introduced on December 12, 2013 by Senator Alexander and has three original co-sponsors Sens. Feinstein, Shaheen and Begich. There are three additional co-sponsors Sens. Blumenthal, Schatz and Hirono.
The bill, as written, would amend title 49, of the United States Code, to prohibit voice communications through mobile communication devices on commercial passenger flights.
However, the Senate Appropriations Committee, in the 2014 THUD Appropriations Act directs the DOT to complete its rulemaking on voice communications expeditiously and put in place a clear rule that takes into account the full impact of inflight use of mobile wireless devices on consumers and the commercial aviation industry. This report language is similar to the House language.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS COMMITTEE ACTION: AFA continues to work with a broad coalition to keep the FCC from moving forward on lifting the current cellular ban. Please contact members of the House and Senate and urge swift action on efforts to ban voice communications inflight.
Bankruptcy Reform: On July 10, 2014, U.S. Senators Durbin, Harkin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Sherrod Brown, and Franken introduced legislation today to curb abuses that deprive employees and retirees of their earnings and retirement savings when businesses collapse. The Protecting Employees and Retirees in Business Bankruptcies Act would make several changes to Chapter 11 bankruptcy law, putting workers’ interests near the top when companies file for bankruptcy. A companion measure (H.R. 100) has been introduced in the House of Representatives by House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Conyers. This is the 5th Consecutive Congress that Sen. Durbin and Rep. Conyers have introduced this legislation to create a level playing field for employees and retirees when their companies seek protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS COMMITTEE ACTION: Encourage congressional members of the House and Senate to co-sponsor these bills.
Norwegian: Norwegian Airlines is the third largest “ultra” low cost European carrier and operates several companies flying under the Norwegian brand; Norwegian Air Shuttle, Norwegian Long Haul and Norwegian Air International
The parent company, Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS), is a Norwegian company headquartered in Oslo and has a fleet of 737 aircraft and primarily flies throughout Scandinavia, Europe. The company has a Norwegian Air Operating Certificate (AOC). At NAS the workers are employees of Norwegian, have a seniority list and are represented by Parat.
Norwegian two long-haul companies Norwegian Long Haul (NLH) and Norwegian Air International utilize 787 aircraft to fly between Scandinavia, Europe, Asia and the United States.
Norwegian Long Haul (NLH) holds a Norwegian AOC. However, their aircraft are registered in Ireland. Norwegian law permits an AOC holder to operate an aircraft registered in a foreign country for a limited period of time. Norwegian can hire and utilize foreign workers, without obtaining Norwegian work permits by flagging their aircraft in Ireland. NLH currently flies to the United States under the US/Norwegian Air Transport Agreement (ATA) – more commonly referred to as an open skies agreement.
Norwegian Air International (NAI) is an Irish company, with and Irish AOC. The NAI aircraft are registered in Ireland. The Norwegian government has no oversight over NAI. NAI doesn’t employee any flight crews, instead it uses a staffing company to hire and train crewmembers. NAI currently operates flights between Scandinavia, Europe and Asia. NAI’s goal is to provide service to the US under provision in the broader EU/US Open Skies Agreement – thereby circumventing the US/Norwegian ATA.
NAI has applied for a foreign air carrier permit to operate flights to the United States. If the DOT approves the application for service, NLH will likely be merged to the Irish AOC and cease to exist. The NAI application to fly to the US is under review by the USDOT. In addition to the NAI has also applied for an exemption authority. The exemption would allow NAI to initiate service to the US without them receiving a foreign air carrier permit.
AFA opposed the NAI application to fly the US because the Norwegian model, creating a new Irish company for the purpose of flying the US as part the EU/US open skies agreement, violates Article 17 bis EU/US Open Skies Treaty. NAI has hired Asian and US crews to lower their operational cost below what they would have to pay if they were to continue to operate under the Norwegian AOC.
AFA has been working closely allies such as ALPA, ITF/ETF, Parat, and TTD to put pressure on the US Government urging them to deny the NAI Application. NAI was created to circumvent Norwegian labor laws and therefore amounts to social dumping of corporate responsibility. If DOT allows NAI to set up a “flag of convenience” business model it will put downward pressure on US carriers to lower labor costs on Transatlantic operations in order to compete with this new “ultra” low cost carrier model.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS COMMITTEE ACTION: Get AFA members to sign the petition telling the Obama Administration to protect the U.S. aviation industry and U.S. aviation jobs.
Since March, voluntary contributions to PAC have increased by $645/month. The two largest submissions of cards came from the CWA Houston BootCamp and the AFA BOD meeting in Orlando.
Currently Councils 64, 42 and 21 are actively holding FlightPAC drives. There are plans at PSA to conduct drives in July and August.
Increasing PAC contributions should be a primary goal of each MEC/LEC chair. Please notify the office for help or assistance with a PAC drive at your domicile.
The Policy Committee is preparing a fall edition of a FlightPAC newsletter which will be sent to FlightPAC contributors.
AFA Votes postcards were mailed to all AFA members the week of July 4. One of the primary goals is to get our members involved in the political process by encouraging them to vote. This is an important service that AFA-CWA is able to provide our members and it is one of the ways we can make AFA-CWA more relevant to them.
Our voter registration should be both non-partisan and non-threatening. Flight Attendants appreciate the information provided to them about registering and obtaining absentee ballots. Our voter information drives also increase AFA-CWA’s visibility and help create more effective Flight Attendant activists.
Before conducting voter registration drives, contact your MEC President to request the necessary approval for AFA-CWA to conduct their campaign. Depending on airport rules you may have to request the required permits.
Every voter registration drive is unique. Plans and activities should be based on the needs of your local council, as well as state and local election laws and practices.
Before starting your voter registration drives you should call or check the web site for your Secretary of State for voter registration deadlines and other information. Some states have very strict regulations guiding voter registrations.
Upcoming Voter Registration Deadlines
Arizona will hold its Primary on August 26, 2014. If an Arizona resident and needs to vote absentee, they may register and request an absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) found at FVAP.gov. Arizona residents must complete, sign and send the FPCA to their local election official. This form needs to be received by 7pm August 26, 2014. Detailed information is available at the following website: www.fvap.gov/arizona.
Florida will hold its primary election on August 26. If a Florida resident and needs to vote absentee, they may register and request an absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) found at FVAP.gov. Florida Residents must complete, sign and send the FPCA to their local election official. Forms need to be received by July 28. Detailed information is available at the following website: www.fvap.gov/florida.
Oklahoma will hold its primary runoff election on August 26. Oklahoma resident needs to vote absentee; they may register and request an absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) found at FVAP.gov. Oklahoma residents must complete, sign and send the FPCA to their local election official. Forms need to be received by August 1. Detailed information is available at the following website: www.fvap.gov/oklahoma.
Vermont will hold its primary election on August 26. If a Vermont resident and needs to vote absentee, they may register and request an absentee ballot using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) found at FVAP.gov. Vermont residents must complete, sign and send the FPCA to their local election official. Forms need to be received by August 20.
CWA is holding political BootCamp trainings in the following Districts and locations
CWA District 6, San Antonio, TX — July 29/30
CWA District 4, Columbus, OH – August 18/19
Please contact me for additional BootCamp information.
Policy Committee Monthly Conference Call
The Political Legislative Policy Committee call on September 5, 2014 will be open to all AFA MEC Chairs.
Republic Airways has hired PR/lobby firm Thorn Run Partners to work on reversing the 1,500 hour requirement for pilots.