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Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), along with Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-GA), announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation to ensure fair labor standards are upheld by all airlines operating in the U.S. The Fair and Open Skies Act (H.R. 4021) would increase the United States Department of Transportation’s (DOT) powers to regulate unfair business practices from foreign airlines that negatively impact workers. Specifically, the bill would require DOT to consider all economic regulatory criteria under the law when making a public interest determination for issuing a foreign air carrier permit, which allow foreign air carriers to operate in U.S. air space, including whether a foreign air carrier is encouraging fair wages and working conditions, require a public interest test for foreign air carrier permits, and ensure the DOT looks at labor standards more broadly.

“Every American worker deserves full protection under the law from unfair labor practices, but for too long aviation workers have been at risk of foreign airline companies undermining U.S. labor standards. I am proud to introduce the Fair and Open Skies Act with Congressman Drew Ferguson to ensure workers and their right to fair wages and good working conditions are protected, which will make our aviation system even safer,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier.

“Foreign air carriers are exploiting lax labor laws in other countries and putting American passengers at risk,” said Congressman Drew Ferguson. “The United States operates one of the safest aviation systems in the world and if foreign airlines want to operate inside the U.S., they need to play by the same rules and standards of our country. The Fair and Open Skies Act is a bipartisan solution that would protect American jobs, ensure the safety of the flying public, and stop foreign carriers from circumventing our rules to undercut their competition.”

“As a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce this key legislation to uphold America’s standards in aviation and ensure that foreign airlines cannot undermine our aviation jobs,” said Congressman Salud Carbajal.

“This bill will ensure fairness and transparency in the airline industry,” said Congressman Mike Bost. “The Fair and Open Skies Act will prevent the Department of Transportation from issuing foreign air carrier permits or exceptions from labor requirements without considering how it undermines American jobs, wages, safety, and security. As a former pilot, I’m proud to lead on this legislation which will keep our airspaces safe from manipulation and ensure the current administration upholds American labor standards.”

“If foreign carriers want to fly in the United States, they shouldn’t be able to game our system and must follow the same regulations of domestic carriers,” saidCongressman Jack Bergman. “It’s imperative our transportation policies function to promote transparency and security for our markets and people and I’m proud to support the Fair and Open Skies Act to ensure these safeguards are in place.”

“Foreign airlines have been exploiting weak labor laws overseas, undercutting American workers and weakening safety standards,” Congressman Pat Ryan said. “I strongly support the Fair and Open Skies Act to ensure that any foreign airline seeking to do business in the United States abides by American safety and labor standards so that we can continue to maintain the gold standard of aviation safety that makes us the global leader in air transportation and protect millions of airline jobs from unfair competition.”

“Fair and free markets are the cornerstone of American business,” said Congressman Don Bacon. “When foreign airlines’ operations cheat their home country’s employment, labor standards, and safety standards, it negatively impacts American workers and companies who are held to the highest safety and labor standards in the world. The Department of Transportation must hold new foreign air carriers to the same standards.”

“I’m proud to join Representatives DeSaulnier and Ferguson as an original cosponsor of bipartisan legislation to prevent foreign airlines from exploiting weak labor laws in other countries to undermine American workers and safety standards. I’m proud to stand up for fair competition and support American workers by ensuring that our labor and safety standards are met,” saidCongresswoman Val Hoyle.

“I’m pleased to be an original co-sponsor of this important bipartisan legislation. This bill protects U.S. jobs from unfair competition and helps ensure passenger safety. Competition is welcome in a global economy, but everyone needs to compete on the same playing field – and that is not the case here. The Fair and Open Skies Act would go a long way toward retaining American jobs and ensuring a critically important and strong U.S. aviation industry,” said Congressman Bill Johnson.

Original cosponsors of this bill include Reps. Andre Carson (IN-07), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Pat Ryan (NY-18), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Mike Bost (IL-12), Jack Bergman (MI-01), Don Bacon (NE-02), and Bill Johnson (OH-06).

“ALPA appreciates the bipartisan leadership and continued commitment in protecting American jobs and fighting for fair competition for airline pilots and other U.S. workers. Foreign airlines seeking a permit to fly to the United States cannot be allowed to do so at the expense of U.S. workers, whose rights, wages, and working conditions must all be protected. ALPA is proud to support the bipartisan Fair and Open Skies Act which would reinforce our nation’s status as a global leader in aviation by requiring the Department of Transportation to cement the rights of U.S. workers in the basic structure of this country’s air carrier licensing decisions,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, President of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA).

“The Fair and Open Skies Act promotes a simple goal—to ensure our laws protect workers and provide high quality job standards. Congress should do everything possible to ensure foreign companies cannot undercut labor standards that are critical to a safe and vibrant U.S. airline industry,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler.

“The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), the only craft-specific union representing aircraft maintenance technicians, is proud to again endorse the Fair and Open Skies Act introduced by Representatives Mark DeSaulnier and Drew Ferguson,” said AMFA National President Bret Oestreich. “The bill helps to protect American aviation workers by requiring the Department of Transportation to ensure foreign air carriers are not undermining U.S. labor standards. Aircraft maintenance technicians play a critical role in keeping the American flying public safe, and they deserve to be protected as well.”

“The Fair and Open Skies Act is critical to ensuring that every carrier operating within the United States is abiding by our laws and regulations, especially those pertaining to labor standards,” said International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richie Johnsen. “As the largest air transport labor union in the United States., the IAM is proud to support bipartisan, common-sense legislation that will promote fair wages and better working conditions for the workers who truly connect us with the world.”

“Transportation workers know all too well the consequences of predatory business models that have undermined critical domestic industries, from freight rail and maritime to the aviation sector. Today, the U.S. airline industry faces an existential threat from foreign airlines that operate in the domestic market while undermining key labor and safety laws. We support the Fair and Open Skies Act to prevent so-called flag-of-convenience airlines from hollowing out the domestic airline industry further,” said AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Greg Regan.

“This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-10) and Representative Drew Ferguson (R-GA-3), is critical to the health of the U.S. aviation industry. Thanks to the Fair and Open Skies Act, the DOT would be required to look at all economic regulatory criteria under the law when making a public interest determination, including whether a foreign air carrier is encouraging fair wages and working conditions. Far too often, foreign carriers attempt to cut corners and shop for “favorable” labor laws and weaker regulatory standards in order to gain a competitive advantage over U.S. carriers—but workers and consumers eventually pay the price. APFA fully supports the Fair and Open Skies Act which is vital to maintaining good U.S. jobs and the highest level of aviation safety,” said Julie Hedrick, National President, Association of Professional Flight Attendants. 

“The Teamsters are proud to endorse the Fair and Open Skies Act,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “Our union will not stand by as low-road foreign carriers work to degrade standards in the airline industry, and we support these efforts that give us the tools to fight back.”

This legislation is supported by the AFL-CIO, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Association of Flight Attendants (CWA), Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, Communications Workers of America, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots, Southwest Airline Pilots Association, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Transport Workers Union, and UNITE HERE.

Congressman DeSaulnier is a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure where he serves on the Subcommittee on Aviation. He is also a senior member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce.