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By Huge Margin, House Votes to Make Flight Attendants FMLA Eligible

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May 22, 2008

Intense lobbying by AFA-CWA flight attendants, pictured with supporters Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), secured near unanimous House approval for legislation to extend FMLA leave coverage for flight crews.
With unprecedented bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 402 to 9, to approve AFA-CWA-supported legislation that will enable flight attendants and pilots to be eligible for coverage under the landmark Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

AFA-CWA President Patricia Friend called the vote "a major victory for the tens of thousands of airline workers who have repeatedly been denied access to this vital law that has benefited working families for over a decade." Congress never intended to exclude airline workers, but flight attendants and pilots are regularly denied leave because of the way the airlines calculate their work schedules.  While working flights, flight attendants are away from their homes up to 20 days a month but this time is not counted toward FMLA coverage.

Because support was so strong for correcting this inequity, the House agreed to approve the measure in a special "suspension vote" which allows non-controversial legislation to be quickly brought to a vote without being subject to amendments or lengthy debate.

"We have been working for years to clarify FMLA language," Friend stated. "This victory is truly a testament to the spirit of involvement that is a trademark of AFA-CWA members. It was because of the tens of thousands of letters you sent, the phone calls you made, and your face-to-face visits with your representatives that we were able to garner the support that allows this legislation to literally sail through the House of Representatives," she said.

The legislation is expected to win approval in the Senate where companion legislation, S. 2059, has been introduced by Sen. Hillary Clinton along with 26 co-sponsors.