On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) I urge you to cosponsor the Airline First Responder Workplace Fairness Act (H.R. 3824). This legislation will implement important workplace protections for our nation’s flight attendants and improve flight safety.
Fatigue is of paramount concern for workers in the aviation industry. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) recently released a report which concluded that changes to flight attendant work rules are necessary and that reform is needed to combat fatigue. Current regulatory requirements dealing with rest and duty periods are inadequate, leaving flight attendants deprived of critically needed rest. In the face of past and ongoing financial turmoil, air carriers have pushed flight crews to work right up to the FAA regulatory limit and have taken advantage of “reduced rest” provisions. It is not unusual for flight crews to be assigned only eight hours of rest. Considering travel to a layover hotel, checking-in, eating, and dressing, eight hours of rest easily translates into a miniscule 3-5 hour window of sleep.
Beyond being a question of fair working conditions, flight attendant fatigue is also a passenger safety concern. In this post- 9/11 world, flight attendants share a larger role in safety and in-flight security. Fatigue can impede flight attendants’ ability to monitor the flight cabin, and fulfill their duties in cases of emergency or evacuation.
H.R. 3824 would establish a pathway for implementing reforms that will battle flight attendant fatigue. The legislation instructs the FAA to create an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), comprised of a balanced representation of the aviation community, including flight attendant unions and other safety experts. The ARC would have one year to study flight attendant fatigue, review the CAMI findings, and issue recommendations to the FAA Administrator. The FAA would then have one year to issue a proposed rulemaking, and 18 months to issue a final rule.
It is past time for flight attendant fatigue rules to be updated to reflect the changing demands of the job, and to ensure safe and humane working conditions. I urge you to cosponsor H.R. 3824, and support the creation of fair, comprehensive flight attendant fatigue rules that will improve working conditions and enhance aviation safety.