Washington, D.C. -- In an historic victory for worker and consumer safety, the FAA Reauthorization Bill passed the Senate overwhelmingly today by a vote of 93-6 with the inclusion of critical provisions that protect passenger service agents from assault and increase to ten hours the minimum rest for Flight Attendants.
“The difference these changes will make for workers and passengers cannot be overstated. The FAA Reauthorization fights have often been contentious, and have not always delivered protections this robust to the safety of workers and passengers. The groundwork laid by CWA members was crucial,” said Shane Larson, CWA Legislative Director.
For over a decade, CWA passenger service agents have been fighting to strengthen protections against passenger assaults. Their personal stories and recommendations as they presented them to Congress and officials in Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, and Transportation Security Administration shaped the provisions included in the final legislation.
"CWA's passenger service agents shared their personal stories of assaults by passengers and how this impacted their safety and that of their colleagues.” said Richard Honeycutt, Vice President of CWA District 3 and Chair of CWA's Passenger Service Airline Council. "Members of Congress took to heart their experience and recommendations as they shaped the final language in the bill. Addressing this issue in the FAA Reauthorization bill was long overdue."
Air carriers are now required to submit a plan and implement assault prevention and response training for passenger service agents within 90 days. While it requires a six-month study by GAO, the 90-day timeline for submission of the plans by air carriers started immediately upon passage and does not wait for the completion of that study.
The FAA Reauthorization bill also included a major win for consumers and Flight Attendants who are on the frontline as first responders in emergency situations in flight. The inclusion of an increase of the minimum rest time from eight to ten hours for Flight Attendants has been the top safety priority for AFA-CWA's 50,000 Flight Attendants. This change brings the Flight Attendant rest time into alignment with the minimum rest time for their flight deck counterparts.
"The inclusion of the increased rest time for Flight Attendants closes a safety loophole,” said Sara Nelson, AFA-CWA International President. “Congressional fatigue studies have confirmed this was a safety and health issue, but this also is about equality. Our largely female dominated profession now has parity with pilots in our minimum rest period.”