The strength of the U.S.-flagged, U.S-crewed merchant marine fleet continues to be an essential linchpin for economic security, military readiness, and the availability of good jobs with strong wages and benefits in the domestic maritime industry. However, for decades, the U.S. fleet and U.S. mariners have been buffeted by Flag of Convenience shipping models, shifting economic and military climates, and missed policy opportunities. Bold decisions and investments will be necessary to guarantee the enduring viability and growth in the U.S. maritime sector. With strong leadership from the Biden administration and recent Congressional action, it is apparent that we have arrived at a unique opportunity for transformational growth and increased ability to compete for a larger share of America’s foreign trade.
Since 1975, the Fly America Act has required that when federal employees and their dependents, contractors, grantees, and property travel internationally on trips financed by the federal government, they do so on U.S.-flagged air carriers. Like many other laws and regulations in the transportation sectors that require some form of domestic preference, the requirement seeks to combat unfair competitive practices that U.S. carriers encounter in many of the countries where they operate, including the financial subsidization of carriers by their host country. These requirements ensure that federal spending on travel brings positive economic impacts to both domestic air carriers and their employees. As such, the Fly America Act represents a strong example of the policies touted by the President’s Made in America Executive Order, and we call on the administration and Congress to take action to uphold the Act’s requirements.
In the halls of Congress and the Executive Branch, at the bargaining table, and during international trade negotiations, labor unions have long been the vanguard of the fight for legal and regulatory regimes that promote workplace safety, guarantee dignified employment conditions, and provide fair wages and benefits. For an equal amount of time, unscrupulous corporations and other actors have sought to undermine these core tenets. Today, the airline industry and its workforce faces a pernicious and existential threat from so-called “Flag of Convenience” (FOC) air carriers and other forms of labor arbitrage operating under novel corporate structures designed to skirt these key responsibilities and undermine competition.
Years of underinvestment in our roads, rail lines, transit systems, airports, and seaports have taken their toll, and it’s working families who pay the price—in excruciatingly long lines at airports, inadequate public transit services, and potholed roads and bridges that are no longer safe to travel across. In soul-crushing commutes, ever-tightening pocketbooks, and limited access to good jobs, educational opportunities, and medical care.
For millions of American workers, federal labor rights and federally overseen benefits are supplemented by state-level law and policy. This allows states to provide critical benefits that the federal government is unable or unwilling to provide. As an example, anti-worker factions of Congress have been steadfast in their refusal to join the rest of the industrialized world in providing paid sick leave to employees. In this void, thirteen states and the District of Columbia have stepped in to do so. States have also taken actions to provide lifelines like parental leave, mandatory rest breaks, and a multitude of other policies that seek to help working people and families in areas where the federal government does not. We applaud these efforts.
TTD and our affiliated unions recognize the serious impacts from climate change and the severe consequences we face if we fail to respond with responsible measures that reduce our carbon footprint. Like automation, however, discussions about reducing our carbon footprint often focus on the potential benefits from new technologies, without looking at the entire picture and taking intentional steps to ensure that the impacted industries’ workers and the communities they live in benefit from technological change.
The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), our 33 affiliated unions, and the broader labor movement have fought tirelessly over the past decades to ensure that federal investments made in America’s transportation infrastructure are tied to strong policies that support and create good-paying jobs and safe work places for America’s workers. Those policies include Davis-Bacon, Buy […]
As the COVID-19 pandemic raged across the nation, nearly all intercity passenger transportation ceased almost overnight. In 2020, air carriers ferried their fewest passengers in three decades, registering months with as much as 96% fewer boardings compared to the prior year. Amtrak saw its ridership decrease 97% as business travel along the profitable Northeast Corridor evaporated. As many as 800 motorcoach companies shuttered, and cruise lines ceased all operations in compliance with CDC orders. While the federal government has taken important steps to mitigate the devastation caused to transportation services, employees, and communities, in many corners of the nation these effects have been catastrophic. As we emerge from the pandemic, it is imperative that we begin flying, riding, and traveling again—and that we do so safely. Our national economic recovery, and the livelihoods of millions of transportation workers, depends on it.
The 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup attracted almost 3.6 billion viewers—more than half the world’s population—with the final game alone drawing an audience of 1.12 billion viewers worldwide. The Men’s World Cup routinely attracts more than 3 million attendees to stadiums in their host countries, and in total, attracted more than 5 million tourists to host cities across Russia in the most recent 2018 World Cup. If these numbers seem staggering, so too are the profits involved. In 2018, FIFA generated more than $6.4 billion in revenue, with a significant portion of that coming from the World Cup.
The Labor movement stands united in our support for good, middle-class jobs, policies that address climate change, and safe transportation that brings equitable benefits to communities across the country. As our infrastructure evolves and adapts to new challenges, new technologies, processes, and business models meant to face these challenges must advance these goals. Today, our nation is grappling with the challenge of transitioning to zero-emission transportation vehicles and infrastructure over the next few decades. We cannot let the Wall Street and multinational corporations alone decide how to move forward on these issues. While we will all continue to advocate for modal and union specific concerns, the undersigned unions have come together to adopt the following principles that will guide our policy advocacy, collective bargaining, and organizing efforts as we all work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our industries and advance racial and environmental justice.
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