Machinists & Aerospace Union Demands More Protections for Airline and Rail Workers in Light of Threats

Machinists & Aerospace Union Demands More Protections for Airline and Rail Workers in Light of Threats

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Machinists & Aerospace Union Demands More Protections for Airline and Rail Workers in Light of Threats

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IAM Transportation Department General Vice President Sito Pantoja issued the following statement regarding the need for increased airline and railroad security in the coming weeks:

“As a result of the assault on the Capitol Building and subsequent violent behavior by unruly airline travelers, the IAM demands that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and all airlines and rail carriers adjust and reinforce their security policies to further ensure the safety of all airline and rail workers and passengers.
 
While there have been some security improvements at airports and rail stations, more needs to be done. We have already witnessed dangerous behavior on aircraft from unruly passengers and with reports circulating of upcoming “protests” nationwide in the days leading up to the inauguration, the threat of violence to airline and rail workers and passengers will be increased.
 
Airline and rail workers have already risked their health by working tirelessly through the COVID pandemic, transporting travelers and goods across the globe. This country must do a better job protecting the people who work and use the transportation industry than they have done protecting those in the U.S. Congress.”

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Abusive Protesters Prompt New Flight Restrictions at American Airlines

Abusive Protesters Prompt New Flight Restrictions at American Airlines

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Abusive Protesters Prompt New Flight Restrictions at American Airlines

Abusive and disruptive acts by Trump supporters prompt American Airlines to impose new restrictions on flights to and from Washington, DC.

Repeated attacks on flight crews and passengers involve confrontations over face masks, racist and verbal attacks against other passengers, shouting at elected officials, and a “9/11-style threat” broadcast on a radio frequency used by commercial pilots ahead of the protests. 

Following a deadly insurrectionist riot at the Nation’s Capitol on Wednesday, American Airlines has announced new restrictions on Washington, DC flights. The measures are intended to protect flight crews, who have been the targets of numerous politically motivated threats over the past week. According to one union representing flight attendants at the airline, workers have been “forced to confront passengers exhibiting politically motivated aggression towards other passengers and crew.” 

“This is not a political debate. This is a growing trend of increasing abuse and hostility directed at airline workers, and it is unacceptable,” said Mike Klemm, President of IAMAW District 141, which represents over 38 thousand workers at five airlines, including American. “Machinists Union members have worked closely with airlines and government officials to see these attacks penalized with arrests and legal sanctions. As a result, we’ve won significant new protections for gate and ticket agents. We are pleased to see the leadership at American Airlines taking action, and we support any policies that create safer conditions for our members and our passengers.” 

Incidents reported over the past few days include abusive confrontations involving anti-mask protesters, harassment of elected representatives including Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) as they moved through airports, and clashes between passengers on-board flights. 

The increased safety measures follow several well-publicized incidents between flight crews and pandemic deniers and were announced on the same day that hundreds of Trump supporters traveled to Washington and invaded the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States. 

“We are working closely with local law enforcement and airport authority partners to ensure the safety of our customers and team members on the ground and in the air,” the airline said in the announcement of the new restrictions. In addition to increased staffing and reporting to law enforcement, the airline is also cutting back on alcohol service on some flights as a “precautionary” measure. 

Other airlines are expected to follow American by establishing new policies geared towards protecting airline workers and passengers from attacks, though few announcements have been made. 

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History: American Airlines Workers Launch Vaccine Shipments From ORD to MIA

History: American Airlines Workers Launch Vaccine Shipments From ORD to MIA

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This week, American Airlines ground crews began moving some of the first shipments of vital and urgently needed COVID-19 vaccine.

 

History: American Airlines Workers Launch Vaccine Shipments From ORD to MIA

The American Airlines Cargo team carried its first shipment of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine Sunday evening. In close collaboration with pharmaceutical and cargo partners, the airline received the shipment by truck at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and loaded the shipment onto a Boeing 777-200 aircraft flying to Miami International Airport (MIA). The vaccine shipment arrived at its final destination a few hours later in a U.S. territory in the Caribbean. With this flight, American follows United Airlines as the two largest carriers transporting the priceless cargo.

“Make no mistake, our Association membership and other airline workers are on the front lines of history at this moment,” said IAMAW District 141 President, Mike Klemm. “These women and men are safely, efficiently, and quickly moving massive amounts of life-saving vaccines throughout this nation, as part of the work they do,” Klemm said. “These essential, front-line workers are truly integral to this effort,” he continued. “This is why these jobs are so critical to our nation. There is simply no other way to move as much vaccine as safely,  as quickly, and to as many destinations, as you can though our nation’s air transportation system.” 

“I am incredibly proud of the work that airline workers are doing to end this pandemic, and restore some sense of normalcy to the world,” Klemm said.

American Airlines began conducting trial flights in November to simulate the conditions required to transport the COVID-19 vaccine, stress testing the thermal packaging and operational handling process to ensure it remains stable in transit.

American has the largest dedicated temperature-controlled pharmaceutical shipping facility operated by an airline in the United States. From the time a shipment arrives at one of American’s facilities, it is tracked throughout its journey on the ground and from the airline’s Cargo Control Center, located within its Integrated Operations Control in Fort Worth, Texas.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, America Airlines Workers have been transporting hundreds of thousands of pounds of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment, COVID-19 test kits, and pharmaceuticals to help battle the coronavirus, as well as components for Phase III COVID-19 vaccine trials.

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the airline industry, dropping daily passenger counts to less than half of normal levels and has led to tens of thousands of furloughs and layoffs. The job losses and cutbacks have hit non-union airline workers particularly hard, with those who are still on the job dealing with half-wages and many lost benefits.

Since February, over 300,000 Americans have perished from COVID-19, including thousands of workers in healthcare and other essential services like transportation. 

The vaccines are expected to start becoming available for most Americans in early 2021.

Sources: AA Newsroom

Machinists Union Integral in 737 Max Recertification, Safety Improvements

Machinists Union Integral in 737 Max Recertification, Safety Improvements

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has lifted the grounding of the 737 Max, clearing the way for airlines to begin scheduling flights in the upcoming months. The move comes after more than a year of the IAM partnering with the FAA and Congress to ensure the aircraft is safe to carry passengers again after its worldwide grounding in March 2019.

The FAA order only covers domestic flights, which will affect American, United and Southwest Airlines, who all have the 737 Max in their fleets. International flight safety agencies are still

IAM District 751 members have worked extensively to maintain these aircraft in long-term storage and members look forward to bringing the 737 Max back into service and increasing production rates as necessary to meet the needs of the customers going forward.

“This is great news for our Brothers and Sisters in Puget Sound who build these planes,” said IAM Western Territory General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “District Lodge 751’s leadership has done an excellent job in keeping the pressure on Congress, the FAA and Boeing to ensure the best aircraft builders on the planet and their job security are considered and respected.”    

“I’m proud of the work our members have done throughout these difficult times,” said IAM Aerospace General Vice President Mark Blondin. “The quality of their work has really stood out during the storage of the planes, the thorough review process and now getting the 737 Max back into service and eventually ramping up production.”

 

“The FAA’s decision to unground the 737 Max is good news for us in the Pacific Northwest,” said Aviation Subcommittee Chair Rick Larsen (D-WA). “The decision provides some certainty to the aerospace jobs in Northwest Washington, despite the downturn in aviation travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With critical changes in place to ensure the 737 Max’s safe return to service, it is my hope Boeing employees can get back to work, drive economic recovery and ensure U.S. aviation remains globally competitive.”

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure issued a final report on the Boeing 737 Max. Based on the report, the House passed a bipartisan bill, the “Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act.”

 

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Starting Today: United Offers Free, Rapid COVID Tests for EWR-LHR Flights

Starting Today: United Offers Free, Rapid COVID Tests for EWR-LHR Flights

Beginning today, United Airlines is rolling out a four-week trial program that will offer free, rapid COVID testing on flights from Newark Liberty Airport (EWR) to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR). 

The new effort, which was first announced by the airline in October, aims to help ease flight restrictions between the two markets and reassure passengers that air travel is safe. As United’s Director of Operations and Policy, Aaron McMillan puts it, “The pilot program will guarantee that essentially everyone on board just tested negative for Covid-19.”

The new testing program will add another layer of safety to an airline industry struggling to survive a Pandemic that has strangled more than 60% of air traffic since March. Despite public nervousness, air travel remains the safest method of transit available. Cabin air on airplanes is filtered at medical-grade levels. According to studies, mask mandates and deep cleaning between flights ensure that the risk of contracting COVID-19 on a plane is much lower than many everyday activities, such as grocery shopping, attending sporting events, or dining out.

An earlier testing program, praised by Machinists & Aerospace Union Safety Advocates, worked with authorities in the State of Hawaii to allow those testing negative to bypass many of the quarantine requirements imposed on travelers to the Islands. The new rapid pre-flight tests will not allow visitors to the UK to avoid a similar 2-week quarantine, but airline representatives hope that it could do so in the future.

Passengers traveling from Newark to London will need to arrive at least three hours before taking off to allow time to take the tests. Those who test positive will be isolated by medical staff and refunded or rebooked; they won’t be allowed to board the flight.

The program comes as two vaccines are rushing towards final approval. Both of the potential vaccines have greater than 90% efficacy and may begin public use towards the end of December of this year. Last month, Pfizer announced a vaccine with a 90% protection rate against COVID-19. This week, Moderna announced a new potential vaccine with an even greater effective rate, at 94.5%. According to experts, everyday people may have access to a vaccine by early-to-mid 2021.

Airline CEOs such as United’s Scott Kirby have said that any airline recovery depends on the arrival of an effective vaccine and getting the Pandemic under control through aggressive testing and the enforcing of mask mandates.

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“Halloween Hurricane” Zeta Batters Air Travel Along the Gulf Coast

“Halloween Hurricane” Zeta Batters Air Travel Along the Gulf Coast

Zeta has weakened to a tropical storm over Alabama after slamming into the Louisiana Coastline as a Catagory 2 hurricane just days before Halloween.

Airline workers have faced 27 tropical storms in 2020, with 11 of them strengthening to hurricane status.

The last year so many named storms made landfall in the U.S. was 1916, making 2020 the worst weather year in commercial aviation history. Hurricane season ends on November 30. 

Zeta will likely impact several communities served by American Airlines, including airports in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. 

American issued a travel alert for nine coastal airports, allowing customers whose travel plans are impacted by Hurricane Zeta to rebook without change fees. 

By late afternoon on October 28, all major airlines had canceled flights from Louis Armstrong Airport (MSY) in New Orleans. Most flight activities were restored by the morning of the 29th.

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