Joint Declaration Released on Eve of U.S.-EU Joint Committee Meeting
Washington, D.C. – Transportation union leaders from the United States and Europe met today to discuss Norwegian Air International (NAI)’s application for a foreign air carrier permit, which is currently under review by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The American and European labor movements staunchly oppose NAI’s business plan on the grounds that it subverts both Norwegian labor laws and the existing labor provision, Article 17 bis, in the U.S.-EU Open Skies agreement.
Representatives of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), and the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) were joined by the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF), the European Cockpit Association (ECA), Norway-based Parat, and the Norwegian Airline Pilots Association (NF).
The parties released a Joint Declaration on the eve of the U.S.-EU Joint Committee meeting reaffirming their opposition to NAI’s business plan. “We welcome robust competition within the industry,” the parties affirm, but “unless this competition is based on a foundation of respect for fundamental labor rights and fair business practices the economic gains will be few and short lived, while the long-term job losses will be staggering.”
“Today was a crucial opportunity for our international coalition to step up our strategic campaign to ensure that NAI’s flag of convenience scheme does not take off,” said TTD President Edward Wytkind following the meeting. U.S. unions heard an update from Jack Netskar of NF, representing the ECA, and Vegard Einan, vice president of Parat, representing ETF. Netskar and Einan detailed their advocacy work with the Member States of the European Commission, many of whom have expressed significant concerns about NAI’s plan.
Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member-elect of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, also joined the meeting. “As someone who has closely studied aviation issues for decades, I can confidently say this airline’s proposal to operate in the U.S. is a non-starter,” DeFazio said. “American consumers expect and deserve airlines that are both affordable and safe, so Norwegian Air International’s blatant attempt to skirt labor, regulatory and safety standards is unconscionable. The sooner the U.S. Department of Transportation officially denies this application, the better.”
The parties also conferred on strategies to ensure that U.S.-EU trade agreements continue to protect workers. “It is clear that NAI’s business plan would be damaging to workers on both sides of the Atlantic. Were the DOT to approve NAI’s application, it would set a dangerous precedent and send a clear signal that labor protections included in transatlantic trade agreements are little more than lip service,” Wytkind said. “With the U.S.-EU Joint Committee poised to meet tomorrow, we are as certain as ever that it is incumbent upon the DOT to deny NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit.”
The transatlantic labor meeting was the latest effort as part of a diverse campaign, launched earlier this year in Oslo, Norway, to urge DOT to deny NAI’s application. Last week ALPA, AFA, IAM, TWU, AND TTD were joined by the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) and the International Organization of Masters Mates and Pilots (MM&P), as well as major airlines, in asking lawmakers to oppose NAI’s application.
Contact: Elizabeth Weinberg, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-628-9262
U.S. and European Transport Unions Step Up Campaign to Derail NAI Flag of Convenience Plan