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House Votes Unanimously to Extend FMLA to Flight Attendants

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AFA-CWA member Jennifer Hunt, a US Airways flight attendant, testifies  before a House subcommittee about the need to extend the Family and Medical Leave Act to flight crews.

Flight attendants are a big step closer to gaining the important benefits of the Family and Medical Leave Act under a bill passed this week by the U.S. House of Representatives by a unanimous voice vote.

AFA-CWA has long fought to amend the original 1993 FMLA, which failed to take into account "the unique way in which the airline industry counts its workers' hours," said Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the bill, H.R. 912, along with Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.).

"AFA-CWA has worked hard to ensure that no flight attendant is left behind when it comes to FMLA coverage," said AFA-CWA President Patricia Friend. "We are extremely pleased that this bill was a bipartisan and unanimous effort to correct and clarify current FMLA language that has repeatedly denied many flight attendants from qualifying for coverage for years."

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will take up the fight for flight attendants in the Senate.

FMLA requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide job-protected unpaid leave to employees who have worked 60 percent of a full-time schedule over the course of a year. However, the courts and federal agencies have narrowly defined the "full-time schedule" as a traditional 40-hour work week. That definition excluded flight attendants since their schedules do not follow a 40-hour week model.