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March 22, 2023

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AFA Legislative Accomplishments

AFA-CWA’s Legislative Achievements

Through AFA-CWA, hundreds of flight attendants have been trained as effective lobbyists for our profession. We regularly travel to Washington to walk the halls of Congress and advocate for the issues that affect all flight attendants.  Together, with the constant support of the AFA-CWA Government Affairs Department, we have made significant strides in the legislative arena.  Key accomplishments include: 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

Enforcement of new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protections for flight attendants began on March 26, 2014, six months after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and OSHA corrected rules that excluded the passenger cabin.

For decades AFA has pursued legal and regulatory solutions to extend OSHA safety and health protections to workers in the airline industry.  The roadblocks have been enormous. But, our Union kept this as a priority. Through the leadership and dedicated work of our Air Safety, Health and Security Department, as well as grassroots organizing led by our Government Affairs Department and thousands of your calls to Capitol Hill, we ensured that OSHA standards in the cabin was included as part of the FAA Reauthorization Bill.  The Bill provided a path,  However, without our persistence and collaboration with these agencies, this policy statement may not have come to fruition.  It is our focused and expert work for flight attendants that achieved this historic result.

Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act (FMLA)

AFA-CWA worked very closely with Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Tim Bishop (D-NY), in writing legislation to provide all flight attendants with equal access to federal Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) benefits.  After our intense lobby and grassroots efforts, spanning two sessions of Congress, FMLA was amended. On December 21, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act, Public Law 111-119, amending sections 101(2) and 102(a) of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This amendment to the FMLA established a special hours of service eligibility requirement for airline flight attendants; and authorized The Department of Labor (DOL) to create regulations regarding the calculation of FMLA leave for airline flight attendants as well as recordkeeping requirements for employers of those employees.

Known Crew Member Inclusion (KCM)

KCM, developed by Airlines for America and the Air Line Pilots Association, is an expedited screening program for authorized and trusted crew members at security screening checkpoints.  The program utilizes established security clearances that each aviation employee must meet as a condition of employment.

AFA advocated forcefully at many levels of government and industry to promote the KCM program with full recognition of flight attendants’ role in aviation security. From one-on-one meetings with high level Administration officials to expert testimony and congressional office visits, AFA Flight Attendants helped build momentum and ultimately announced with TSA the flight attendant inclusion in the program.


MergersSeniority Integration

In December 2011, The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA won a ground-breaking legal victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago strongly affirmed AFA’s position that the McCaskill-Bond guarantee of fair and equitable seniority protection applies for all those affected by airline mergers.  

In 2007, AFA was instrumental in getting legislation passed by Congress, the McCaskill-Bond Amendment, which protects a flight attendant’s seniority in the event of a merger at their airline. AFA’s latest legal victory for flight attendants came with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that McCaskill-Bond should have applied when Republic Airlines purchased Midwest Airlines. Midwest Flight Attendants are entitled to fair and equitable seniority integration at Republic.

AFA is the only union with a seniority integration policy that preserves a flight attendant’s bidding seniority.   

Bureau of Labor Statistics Flight Attendant Classification

The Department of Labor responded to AFA-CWA’s formal comments and reclassified the Flight Attendant occupation to its rightful place in the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, Standard Occupation Classification system.  Flight Attendants are now classified as essential transportation workers.  This is the same classification assigned to pilots and air traffic controllers. 

FAA Certification of Flight Attendants

Through Federal Aviation Administration certification we are now recognized in the eyes of the aviation industry and the public as onboard safety professionals, validating our role in public safety and aviation security. 

Whistle Blower Protection

Providing flight attendants the ability to report safety concerns to the Federal Aviation Administration that are not being appropriately addressed by airline management, without fear of reprisal or loss of job.   


Eliminating Smoking in Aircraft

Providing not only a smoke free environment for our workplace, but also significantly reducing the risk of deadly cabin fires, the Association of Flight Attendants led the fight to eliminate smoking onboard the aircraft during domestic, and later, international flights. 

Increased Penalties for Air Rage

Fines for “air rage” attacks by passengers against flight attendants were only $1,200 until 2000. Through AFA-CWA legislative action the penalty can now be as high as $25,000. 

Flight Attendant Fatigue Study Funding

Congress mandated $200,000 for the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct the first-ever flight attendant fatigue study.  An additional $980,000 was appropriated in 2006 to complete the study.

Cabin Air Quality Study 

After AFA testified at a Congressional oversight hearing examining the air quality and environment on commercial airliners, lawmakers enacted legislation that included the first Congressional commissioned study of air quality and Flight Attendant health.  

Congressional Resolution and Presidential Proclamation

In recognition of the contributions America's flight attendants have made, and continue to make, to the safety and comfort of the travelling public, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 278, designated July 19, 1990, as "Flight Attendant Safety Professionals' Day" and authorized and requested President Bush to issue a proclamation in observance of that day. 

President Bush issued the proclamation on July 17, 1990 and  July 19, 1990 was designated as Flight Attendant Safety Professionals’ Day.

Senate Concurrent Resolution

Honoring The Heroism and Courage Displayed by Flight Attendants on A Daily Basis. 

At the request of an AFA member and United Flight Attendant, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a concurrent resolution to honor the dedication, courage and commitment flight attendants display on a daily basis.  AFA worked closely with Congressmen Don Young and Jim Oberstar for the introduction of the Resolution in the House.  

Flight Attendant Drug and Alcohol Program (FADAP)

In 2009 the Association of Flight Attendants successfully secured funding for the Flight Attendant Drug and Alcohol Program.  FADAP is a substance abuse prevention program, created and promoted for the flight attendant profession.  FADAP's mission is to support a culture of safety which will be able to assist flight attendants in meeting their personal and professional goals through substance-abuse awareness, combined with self and peer referrals for assistance, and the implementation of a flight-attendant-specific recovery support system.  Our FADAP is identical to the HIMS Program (Human Intervention Motivation Study).  HIMS is an industry-wide effort in which companies, pilot unions, and the FAA work together to preserve careers and further air safety.   

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Page Last Updated: Jan 15, 2015 (10:37:02)
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