Washington, DC – Twenty-two unions with the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO weighed in on an ongoing and escalating debate about the future of international air travel today. The unions called on U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to reject Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) application for a foreign air carrier permit now pending before the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The union signatories represent teachers, electricians, construction workers, public sector workers, and a broad swath of the private and public sector transportation workforce.
“As the representatives of unions that represent workers in several sectors of our economy we have seen first-hand the effects of un-checked globalization on the American workforce,” says the letter. “We cannot allow a similar fate to befall the U.S. aviation industry and lose a creator of middle-class jobs and a pillar of our inter-connected transportation system.”
The letter notes that TTD and its aviation unions have argued extensively that NAI’s application is contrary to the United States’ international obligations and laws, and would allow NAI to gain an unfair advantage over U.S. carriers and their employees.
The letter continues:
We add our voice to this debate for several reasons. We believe that if the U.S. DOT approves this flag of convenience scheme, it will set a precedent for other foreign air carriers to exploit and follow. NAI is promoting a business model that has become all too familiar to the U.S. labor movement: undercut the competition by scouring the globe for cheap labor, diminished collective bargaining rights and weak regulations. The airline has registered in Ireland, even though it will not service Irish airports, and has chosen this path to avoid Norway’s labor and tax laws. It will contract – or more accurately “rent” – much of its flight crew from Thailand using a recruitment firm based in Singapore. In doing so, NAI will be able to undercut U.S. airlines and their employees by as much as 50 percent.
Read the full text of the letter here.
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