Washington DC – Today, Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issued the following statement regarding two separate comments submitted by TTD jointly with the Air Line Pilots Association and the European Cockpit Association, and with the European Transport Workers’ Federation, on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) August 4, 2014 Notice regarding the applicability of Article 17 bis and Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application for a foreign air carrier permit:
“The DOT Notice posted on August 4, 2014 highlights the central issue surrounding Norwegian Air International’s attempt to distort the transatlantic aviation market and undermine worker rights using a low-road business scheme. TTD and our partners believe the Notice further enhances the need for DOT to take decisive action to reject NAI’s application and show that labor protections can’t simply be cast aside in the interest of corporate greed.
“The details surrounding NAI‘s scheme are well documented: the airline plans to circumvent labor and tax laws by establishing a subsidiary in Ireland – despite no plans to operate there – and hiring flight crews based in Thailand and contracted through a Singaporean company. But as we have been saying since the beginning, this plan clearly violates the terms of the U.S.-EU Open Skies agreement, particularly the key labor protections.
“With this Notice the sides of the debate could not be clearer. There are those of us who believe that our trade agreements should be enforced in their entirety and should be a vehicle for raising working standards, creating opportunities, and promoting fair competition. And on the other side are those who believe that the rules can be conveniently ignored to best suit the corporate bottom line. This is a debate that we are ready and eager to have, and we are confident that we have the facts on our side.
“With this flag of convenience scheme, NAI and its allies are suggesting that the labor protections written into the Open Skies agreement are there only for show, and should be ignored when they are in fact most applicable. They seek a world in which scouring the globe for the cheapest labor is the norm, while in the process ushering in an era of substandard working conditions in the aviation industry.
“We urge the U.S. government to uphold its legal and moral responsibility to enforce the terms of the Open Skies agreement and reject NAI’s application for a permit and exemption.”
CONTACT: Elizabeth Weinberg, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-628-9262