Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Flight attendant provisions in the FAA Reauthorization Act

Seal of the US CongressLast week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007, H.R.2881, by a vote of 267-151. The legislation includes a number of provisions of interest to flight attendants in the United States.

The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) issued a news release about the legislation that summarizes the main points that affect flight attendants.

There are several important provisions included in the FAA Reauthorization that AFA-CWA has repeatedly requested for years.

For the first time in over 30 years, a requirement for workplace safety and health protections for flight attendants was finally recognized. Flight attendants suffer numerous occupational injuries and illnesses while working aboard commercial flights at rates several times higher than those for all private industry workers, yet are not covered under Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines.

The FAA Reauthorization also states that the FAA must institute a HIMS, or "Return to the Cabin" Program, that will allow flight attendants an opportunity for rehabilitation after testing positive for drug or alcohol abuse.

The House also instructed the FAA to complete studies on flight attendant fatigue and continue sampling and analyzing onboard cabin air.

The FAA must also initiate a study of actual onboard temperatures to determine if regulations are necessary to mandate standard temperatures onboard aircraft.

Protection for seniority integration in case of an airline merger was also included. This provision will help to ensure that, in the event of an airline merger, all employees are treated fairly and one group is not stapled to the bottom of the merged seniority list.

Additionally, the bill mandates that airlines must notify passengers upon ticket purchase if their aircraft is subject to pesticide spraying.
Also of interest, an amendment to the bill (H.AMDT.808) asks the Secretary of Transportation "to issue regulations requiring air carriers to provide initial and annual recurring training for flight attendants and gate attendants regarding serving alcohol, dealing with disruptive passengers, and recognizing intoxicated persons. The training must include situational training on methods of handling an intoxicated person who is belligerent."

The U.S. Senate will consider this legislation some time next month. If the legislation passes the Senate as well, it will be presented to President Bush for his signature.

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