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Flight Attendants Mobilize for Coverage under FMLA

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AFA-CWA members have sent more than 5,000 letters and e-mails to members of Congress to push for a bill that would give flight attendants' coverage under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Airline Crew Family and Medical Leave Act bill has 80 cosponsors in the U.S. House and was introduced last week in the Senate by Senator Hillary Clinton. AFA-CWA staff and member lobbyists are contacting senators in every state to seek support and are encouraging flight attendants to send even more letters.

Flight attendants have been exempt from the law because of language that narrowly defines "full time work" as a traditional 40-hour week. The new bill will change that.

CWA President Larry Cohen praised the ongoing efforts of AFA-CWA staff and members, calling it a "tremendous example of excellent leg work and what it can accomplish for our members and millions of other working Americans."

In introducing the Senate bill, Clinton said that for 14 years FMLA has "helped more than 50 million men and women trying to balance the demands of work and family. The denial of leave is a particularly dire problem for flight attendants and pilots, as many of them spend several days per week away from home and family. We must do what is right and apply a fair and well-deserved benefit to the hard-working airline crew members."

A sample letter to lawmakers about FMLA is on the AFA-CWA website, www.afanet.org, though members are urged to include their own experiences to show the vital need for FMLA coverage. Members are also encouraged to send personal letters instead of e-mails, as they have more impact, and are asked to mail them via the AFA-CWA office in Washington, D.C. That way, leaders said they can be hand-delivered to members of Congress, bypassing the security that can otherwise delay mail for months. The address is: AFA-CWA, Office of Government Affairs, 501 Third St. NW, Washington, DC 20001.