The IAM praised a recent letter the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) sent to the Federal Aviation Administration, urging the agency to take swift actions like civil enforcement and steep fines to help thwart the growing number of assaults on airline employees.
“On top off being overworked, fatigued and under constant stress, our airline membership is being mentally and physically abused by unruly passengers, which adversely affects their health and safety,” said Richard Johnsen, Chief of Staff to the International President. “We are calling on the airlines and FAA to address airline passenger assault as well as the understaffing issue. The IAM is willing to work with the airlines, FAA and Congress to address these very serious concerns.”
The IAM Transportation Department includes more than 160,000 workers in the airline and rail industries. The IAM is the largest airline union in North America.
DeFazio’s correspondence to the FAA referenced the agency’s own data showing steep increases in air rage incidents subject to enforcement this year. There have been 628 such incidents in 2021 as of August 6, nearly twice the previous peak of 310 in 2004.
“The violent, disruptive behavior that we’ve seen on airplanes this year must not go unpunished,” DeFazio wrote. “Recklessly refusing to wear a mask during the deadliest pandemic in a century is dangerous enough, but punching flight attendants, running for the cockpit door, assaulting other passengers, and the litany of other outrageous incidents reported in the press requires a strong federal response, and I want to ensure that the FAA has the legal tools and authorities necessary to put these incidents to a stop.”
The IAM has been urging lawmakers and other federal officials to step up measures to protect the safety of airline workers in recent months. That includes Johnsen taking part in the Aviation Labor Recovery Roundtable call with FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and U.S. Transportation Department Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg.
Johnsen then urged participants on the call to share the union’s urgency to assure airlines properly staff positions, adding that “airlines were granted billions of dollars in federal relief from this administration to address these problems, and they must act now.”
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