Watch This Couple Scream at JetBlue Crewmembers, Get Thrown Off Flight

Watch This Couple Scream at JetBlue Crewmembers, Get Thrown Off Flight

Warning: Adult Language and Content: The tantrum is the latest in a record-shattering number of air-rage incidents that have happened this year. This year, entitled and enraged passengers have been fined more than $1 million, resulting from more than 3,000 serious rage incidents in 2021.

Watch This Couple Scream at JetBlue Crewmembers, Get Thrown Off Flight

Last week, flight crews booted a couple from a JetBlue flight to San Diego during a screaming, drunken tirade over masks. As usual, the event was captured on video and posted online for all to enjoy.

In the video posted on Reddit, a man can be seen screaming and grabbing at a male flight attendant who, he said, did not give him enough warning that his nose needed to go in his mask.  “You gave me one “f-ing warning,” he shrieked in the viral video.  “I pulled it up the second he said something,” he continued. “The second he said something, I pulled it over my nose,” he cried in a high-pitched wail as cellphones recorded.

At one point, Alice Runkevich, who recorded the video, grabs some snacks and turns her attention to a female passenger accompanying the man. As she enters the video, his counterpart is correctly wearing her mask, nose in, but she seems to lose those skills soon after. Stumbling and slurring her speech, she pleads to the other passengers that they tried to follow the Federally-mandated mask rules but just couldn’t satisfy the flight crews.  “We’re being kicked off the flight and we don’t know why,” she explains, adding, “we’re Americans.”

Despite this, they were both removed from the flight before it left Fort Lauderdale, to the delight of onlooking passengers. Flight B6 529 had been delayed for several hours before the incident, which went down while the plane was on the tarmac.

JetBlue said in a statement that the would-be travelers had been asked “multiple times but would not comply with the federal mask mandate.”

“Eventually the customers were asked to leave the aircraft at which time one customer became verbally and physically aggressive toward crewmembers before eventually exiting the aircraft,” the carrier said in a statement to local media outlets. “The customers will not be allowed to fly JetBlue in the future.”

The tantrum is the latest in a record-shattering number of air-rage incidents that have happened this year. This year, entitled and enraged passengers have been fined more than $1 million, resulting from more than 3,000 serious rage incidents in 2021. According to IAMAW District 141 Legislative Director David Roderick, the attacks are not limited to in-flight; they are becoming a problem for gate and ticket counter agents, as well. 

“it’s really not just airline workers getting abused this way,” said Roderick. “There have been 85 assaults on uniformed TSA Agents this year, too.” Roderick suggested that increased penalties for those who abuse airline workers and other airport staff may need to be increased to discourage more assaults. “Most of these attacks are provoked by Federal masking rules and alcohol,” he said. “We don’t make Federal masking rules, no airline does. We just have to enforce them – which puts our members in danger too often.”

Roderick is participating in discussions with a coalition of labor unions, including the Chicago Federation of Labor to develop legislative strategies to deal with the rise in air rage incidents. On September 4th, Roderick and representatives from the Airport Labor Committee met with AFL-CIO President Robert Reiter and Vice President Tefere Gebre to discuss the issue. “The main goal was finding ways to get more union members involved in this issue,” Roderick said of the meeting.

In September, the Biden Administration doubled the penalties for not wearing masks at airports and aboard aircraft to between $500 and $1,000. Fines for repeated violations can go as high as $3,000. Disrupting or attempting to intimidate or interfere with a flight crew is now a federal offense that can potentially result in prison time. 

United Airlines September 27 Ultimatum: Union Guidance

United Airlines September 27 Ultimatum: Union Guidance

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United Airlines September 27 Ultimatum: Union Guidance 

As you are aware, United Airlines’ deadline of September 27, 2021, to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or face separation from the Carrier is fast approaching. We know that many of you have applied for religious or medical exemptions and have received notice if it has been accepted or rejected. The following concerns the next steps available for those who had their exemption request denied as well as those who were approved for an accommodation which they find to be unacceptable.

As the District Lodge 141 leadership has stated before, and bears repeating, we encourage members to get vaccinated as long as doing so is safe for each individual, but we do not believe United should accomplish vaccinations through a mandate under threat of termination. Nonetheless, the IAM’s attorneys have advised us that the Carrier is within its legal rights to mandate the vaccine as a condition of employment.

For those employees who have been approved for a religious or medical accommodation, we have recently learned more details about the “accommodation” United intends to put in place. We had hoped that once those employees who applied were approved, that we could move forward from this matter, but unfortunately it now appears that United’s “approval for an accommodation” places many employees in an untenable situation.

As has likely become clear to many of you who have been approved for an accommodation, United is imposing involuntary unpaid leave effective October 2, 2021. According to United, its reason for removing non-vaccinated employees from the workplace is because it cannot in “good conscience” allow them to continue to report to work and may require significant time to put safety protocols in place before they can be recalled. United has thus announced that:

      • Effective October 2nd, employees approved for a religious accommodation will be placed on unpaid personal leave, and employees approved for a medical accommodation will begin using their sick leave bank and then transition to EIS.

      • Employees on personal leave (i.e., with a religious accommodation) face the additional hardships that medical coverage does not continue during personal leave, and seniority will cease accruing after three months. 
      • The details of the conditions United is imposing on each group can be found on United’s HelpHub.

For those in customer-facing roles (Customer Service Representative), United has said that this involuntary leave will continue until the “the pandemic meaningfully recedes”, which essentially leaves it indefinite at this point. For non-customer facing roles (including Fleet Service and Storekeepers) this involuntary leave will continue until safety protocols are put in place and non-vaccinated employees are recalled; no date has been set for that return, although United promises an update by mid-October.

Being placed on what essentially amounts to indefinite unpaid leave is not really an accommodation at all and is likely not what anyone thought they were signing up for when they first applied for an accommodation. We have explored the legal options available to challenge this compelled unpaid leave and we want you to know the following.

If you wish to challenge the so-called accommodation which United has imposed (i.e., open-ended unpaid leave), you have the individual right to file a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). There are no fees or costs for filing an EEOC charge and hiring an attorney is not required. Filing an EEOC charge is a right available to each individual employee and the initial steps can be accomplished online. If you decide to file a Charge, here is what you will need to know and can expect:

        • The deadline for filing an EEOC charge is generally 300 days but is only 180 days in some states,  so if you decide to file, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible.  
        • Filing will require you to register an account with the EEOC’s website and provide an email address and other personal information. Do not use your United Airlines email address.  
        • The Charge is filed once the needed sections of the form are complete and you have signed and dated it. Make sure you receive and save a confirmation notice that it is filed and are assigned a  case number.  
        • The EEOC will notify United that you have filed a charge against it. The EEOC process is not  anonymous. However, federal law forbids United from retaliating against you for filing a Charge. 
        • After you have filed, an EEOC investigator will likely contact you for further information and may request to conduct an interview or request additional documents from you. You should cooperate with the EEOC investigator in a timely manner if you wish your case to be continued. You can request a  withdrawal at any time. 
        • Be advised, EEOC investigations often take many months and just because several weeks may
          pass without communication with the EEOC does not mean your case has been closed or denied. 

Instructions on the Charge filing process can be found at the following link:  

https://www.eeoc.gov/how-file-charge-employment-discrimination 

Charges can be filed online using the EEOC’s Public Portal: 

https://publicportal.eeoc.gov/Portal/Login.aspx 

The District Lodge will continue in its effort under the collective bargaining agreement and Railway Labor  Act to obtain fair and safe working conditions for all of our members and will keep you updated on those efforts.  

 

Sincerely,  

Michael G Klemm 
President/Directing General Chairman 
IAM District Lodge 141

 

Recording Secretaries: Please print and post on all IAMAW bulletin boards.

VIDEO: Passenger Screams at Flight Crews, Chews Mask, Gets Arrested

VIDEO: Passenger Screams at Flight Crews, Chews Mask, Gets Arrested

VIDEO: Passenger Screams at Flight Crews, Chews Mask, Gets Arrested

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The meltdown tantrum adds to a year of record levels of violent attacks on airline workers.

61-year-old Timothy Armstrong was arrested and released with a citation for public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

(Play Video on Tik Tok)  61-Year-old Timothy Armstrong was arrested after a drunken, racist rampage on an American Airlines Flight.

On Monday, police arrested and ticketed Timothy Armstrong after a bizarre racist rant onboard a flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. The incident was captured on a cellphone camera and shared on social media, where it immediately went viral. American Airlines flight 1802 had 162 passengers and six crew members on board at the time. The flight landed safely at Salt Lake City International Airport.

So far, authorities have not charged Armstrong with intimidating a flight crew, a federal offense.

Tik Tok user Dennis Busch, a resident of Salt Lake City, filmed the incident and posted it to his account on Monday, where it quickly earned 2.3 million views.

“To clarify,” Busch said of the video, “he was being a racist jerk to a couple of asian passengers before I started filming.”

According to Busch, “He began by yelling at the Asian woman in front of me to sit down when she was standing to deal with a back issue.”

“He proceeded to tell multiple flight attendants that she and her companion ‘didn’t belong here,'” Busch continued. “After asking him to calm down the man went into a complete meltdown of racist, sexist and belligerent comments, culminating in his arrest at the gate.”

The video shows Armstrong growling and chewing at his facemask before getting out of his seat to berate flight attendants and other passengers. A member of the flight crew at one point ordered him to return to his seat. As he did so, he shouted “Joe Biden? Really?” at other passengers.

Upon returning to his seat, Armstrong seemed to go into a drunken stupor, apologizing for his behavior and repeatedly mumbling, “America,” until the police arrived to arrest him.

Busch thanked the flight crew for their composure in handling the incident. “We were lucky to have such a well-trained crew who kept their cool throughout the flight,” he said

“The flight landed safely at (Salt Lake City) where local law enforcement removed the disruptive passenger from the aircraft,” American Airlines said in a statement. “We thank our crew for their professionalism and our customers for their understanding.”

Upon landing, police boarded the plane and detained Armstrong on drunk and disorderly charges.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers has been a leading voice in calls to increase penalties for attacks on airline workers. IAMAW District 141 Legislative Director, David Roderick sits on an airport labor committee tasked with dealing with air rage. “We are working with other unions to coordinate an industry-wide way to handle the rise in attacks on airline workers,” Roderick explained. “On Saturday, we had a meeting with the Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO Trefere Gebre, along with 20 representatives from other unions,” Roderick said. “We discussed some of the many concerns we have in the transportation industry, which seems to change every day,” Roderick said. 

Since the beginning of this year, the FAA has fined unruly passengers more than $1 million for similar outbursts. Since January 1 of this year, the agency has logged just under 4,000 reports of violent and abusive incidents involving passengers. About 3/4s of the attacks were motivated by federal mask requirements, which have been extended to January 2022.

The Machinists Non-Partisan Political League works to drive the interests of airline workers through legislation and public advocacy efforts. The MNPL is funded entirely through voluntary contributions from members like you. Please consider recurring, automatic payroll-deducted contributions of any amount today. Every dollar helps the cause. 

 

Most Employers Plan to Require Vaccinations

Most Employers Plan to Require Vaccinations

Most Employers Plan to Require Vaccinations

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A majority of US companies are planning to require employee vaccinations within the next four months, according to a survey of nearly 1000 employers. So far, about 22% of employers in the US have some form of vaccine requirement already, according to the study. 

Willis Towers Watson, a risk mitigation and liability consultant company, conducted the survey from August 18 through 25.  The company has more than 300 aviation specialists in 35 locations and advises airlines about reducing ground handling losses, improving safety practices and liability costs, and the impacts of COVID on the industry. 

With full General Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine,  an avalanche of private and public employers have created policies that require employee vaccinations. Within weeks of the FDA decision, dozens of large employers immediately began requiring vaccinations, with more than half of all employers in the nation (55%) expected to take action by the fourth quarter of this year. 

The dangers of a perpetual, lingering pandemic constitute a severe financial risk for airlines and other industries. Runaway COVID cases and hospitalizations are prompting a new round of travel restrictions for popular airline destinations, hampering the long-awaited recovery of airlines. These restrictions include new air travel limits at tourist hotspots like Hawaii, the Bahamas, Europe, Canada, and Mexico.

 In August, Delta CEO Ed Bastian told unvaccinated employees they would need to pay $2,400 in annual health insurance surcharges to help offset the monetary risk of employing them. According to Bastian, employee COVID-19 hospitalizations cost an airline an average of $57,000 each. With the highly transmissible Delta Variant, a single employee can infect dozens of coworkers, all of whom can miss up to a month or more of work. Companies with high numbers of unvaccinated workers are vulnerable to sudden, mass outages and crippling health care and liability costs. 

The survey found that a majority (52%) of employers are developing vaccination requirements they hope will be implemented soon, by the end of the year. These mandates could require vaccination proof to gain access to common areas such as breakrooms and cafeterias or comprehensive policies that require employees to stay current on their vaccinations as a condition of employment. 

Many of the 961 US-based companies that participated in the study indicated they are developing more than one vaccine requirement. Of the companies, 45% plan to require employees to provide proof of vaccination before returning to in-person work, and 34% say they will not hire or keep unvaccinated employees. An overwhelming majority, 79%, say that planned vaccine requirements will apply to all workers at the company. 

In all, the employers who responded to the survey employ 9.7 million workers. 

The pandemic has caused several additional burdens on employers beyond health care, employee absenteeism, loss of customers and predictable operations. More than two-thirds of employers (68%) have been forced to increase spending on communications programs designed to convince employees of the benefits and safety of vaccines, as well as how they can get vaccinated. Most employers (86%) absorb the majority of costs associated with COVID testing and 80% invest in contact tracing programs. 82% of respondents predict that COVID-related expenses will continue to threaten employee wellness over the next six months.

The Ongoing Pandemic Spells Trouble for Airlines

The Ongoing Pandemic Spells Trouble for Airlines

The Ongoing Pandemic Spells Trouble for Airlines

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While this has been a summer of recovery for the nation’s airlines, there are mounting signs that the party could be over. Despite July being a hopeful month for the carrier, American Airlines recently told investors that August numbers would be weaker than expected. 

At a recent Raymond James investor conference, American’s Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja blamed the slowdown in bookings on the surging number of new COVID cases. According to the TSA, air travel has seen a steady decline since early August. About 1.5 million air travelers passed through TSA checkpoints on Tuesday, compared to 2.5 million on August 15, just ten days prior. American stock is currently holding steady at 20.27.

According to Raja, the lower travel numbers are something that airlines would expect to see in mid-September when traffic tends to slow down. In this case, however, cancellations are also on the rise – possibly indicating a systemic reduction in demand. 

Raja said the lower than expected revenue was squarely due to the increasing number of COVID-19 infections, spurred by the highly infectious Delta Variant. Spirit, Southwest, and Frontier have also told investors they expected the ongoing pandemic to weaken their Autumn outlooks. At least one airline catering company has already announced plans to soon lay off about 200 employees due to the impact that COVID is having on airlines. 

There is no question that airlines are improving financially. On Sunday, more travelers passed through TSA checkpoints than in 2019, before the Pandemic began. However, each day seems to bring new travel restrictions as state and local destinations are inundated with new COVID 19 cases. While air travel isn’t plummeting as it did last March, there is also no question that airlines could be in a much better position without the Pandemic.

Airlines are uniquely vulnerable to the economic effects of COVID-19 and were among the hardest-hit businesses throughout the pandemic. In 2020, three of the largest airlines reported losses totaling a staggering $14 billion. Last year, virtually all airline workers in the U.S., from pilots and flight attendants to baggage handlers and customer service agents, got much of their paychecks from taxpayers thanks to the Payroll Support Program, part of the CARES Act. As case numbers get closer to 2020 levels, it becomes increasingly likely that airlines could once again consider mass layoffs to be a reasonable option. 

Moreover, deaths and hospitalizations are ravaging airline workplaces. According to Ed Bastian, the CEO of Delta Air Lines, each employee that gets hospitalized with COVID-19 costs airlines an average of $50,000. Widespread infections among employees that perform key operational functions, such as pilots and control tower employees, could cripple an airline almost overnight. All of this makes unvaccinated employees an extreme financial risk for carriers.

So far, American Airlines has not announced plans to require vaccinations for its 100,000 employees, making it more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, including health care and liability insurance costs. Other airlines, such as Air Canada, Cathay Airlines, United, Frontier, and Hawaiian, have drafted policies requiring at least some form of vaccine requirements. Delta is raising insurance premiums for unvaccinated employees by $200 a month in a move that a wide range of employers are now considering. 

Most of the largest employers in the U.S. now require employee vaccinations, ensuring that widespread infections do not disrupt their workplaces. The list includes McDonald’s, Google, Uber, Lyft, Netflix, UPS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Disney. The largest single employer in the U.S. is the Federal Government, which also requires vaccinations of armed forces members, employees, and contractors.

What is United Doing?

What is United Doing?

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What is United Doing?

August 25, 2021

As you are likely aware, United Airlines’ top management has mandated that all United Airlines employees must have received their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or the only shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, by September 27th or face termination. IAM District 141 opposes mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. We have discussed ways to increase vaccination incentives and testing procedures for IAM members who are hesitant to get the vaccine. United has refused to adequately use incentive programs in this effort.

Yesterday, however, United Ground Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Continental Holdings Inc., a subsidiary which is completely controlled by United CEO, Scott Kirby, informed UGE employees that they are NOT required to be vaccinated as a condition of employment AND there exists NO plan for a testing regime for UGE employees. The lack of consistent vaccine rules at UA/UGE will not create a safer environment for our membership.

CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said the following: “We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees, but we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.”

What the hell is the difference between United and UGE employees? 

On the one hand, Scott Kirby is framing the vaccine requirements at United as a matter of employee safety. On the other hand, he is allowing vaccinations to be optional at UGE. The decision on whether or not to impose vaccine mandates is already extremely controversial. Mixed messaging like this is making the situation far more provocative than it needs to be. If mandates are not needed at UGE, then why are they being imposed at United?

UGE and United employees work side by side in locations such as EWR, ORD and DEN. Workers in those locations are entitled to the same safety measures when at work. 

While we may not agree with an unnecessarily punitive strategy of vaccine mandates, we must have a consistent approach from the company.

This is what UGE President Ken Brown wrote to his employees yesterday: “We have heard from many employees on this topic and every possible point of view has been represented. No deeply held position is invalid and we respect everyone’s ability to decide what is best for themselves.”

All IAM members at United Continental Holdings Inc. can rest assured that IAM District 141 will do all that it can to find out why United management has two completely different and conflicting policies regarding keeping their employees safe during the worst pandemic in over 100 years.

In solidarity with all IAM members, 

Michael G. Klemm
President and Directing General Chair,
IAMAW District 141