By Richard Trumka and Edward Wytkind
As published in Politico
America’s working people are rightly suspicious of trade policy. For too long our trade strategy has protected corporate interests while fueling a race to the bottom in living standards for working families. That sad legacy is now rearing its head in the aviation sector. As you read this, a Norwegian airline is seeking our government’s blessing to launch new trans-Atlantic service into the U.S. that violates our trade rules. Norwegian Air International is just the latest symbol of failed American trade policy and toothless enforcement of trade agreements.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, the parent airline attempting to launch NAI, likes to pride itself on being a low-cost European airline, but the launch of NAI isn’t an attempt to enter the U.S. market. In fact, Norwegian Air Shuttle already flies into the United States. Instead, the operating model it plans for its Norwegian Air subsidiary takes a page from the unfair trade playbook. NAI will use temporary labor by employing Bangkok-based flight crews under short-term Singaporean or Thai employment contracts. This move will allow Norwegian Air to boost profits by beating down workers’ wages and benefits and gaming trade rules.
Norwegian Air Shuttle already serves U.S. cities such as Las Vegas and Orlando and does not need additional authority from the Department of Transportation to expand its flights to American destinations. The company has collective-bargaining relationships with its employees in Norway, but its expansion plans using the NAI subsidiary would sidestep its workforce in Norway in favor of low-cost Asian crews. It is a timeless strategy to bolster its profits: cut costs by circumventing labor standards.
Read more in Politico.