Regular readers of Airline Accountability will not be surprised to hear that we were pleased to learn of the recent reintroduction of The Airline Accountability Act, in Congress. The bill targets the airline industry’s practice of outsourcing labor to low-road contractors that do not always follow wage and hour laws. Specifically, the legislation, introduced by US Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) would require that air carriers participating in a program used by federal employees to travel for work to disclose labor violations from their contractors. In addition, air carriers who are found to have repeated, willful, or serious labor infractions would be ineligible to participate in the program.
Senator Booker said,
“Airlines are engaged in a pernicious ‘race to the bottom’ as they outsource vital functions of air travel, like cleaning airplanes and handling bags, to the lowest bidder. The result is subcontracting firms that exploit their workers and retaliate when those workers protest or try to organize to demand fairer treatment. This is wholly unacceptable. There must be more federal oversight of companies committing these abuses and we need stricter safeguards in place to prevent abuse.”[i]
We’ve written previously, for example about Eulen America, an American Airlines contractor, with an alarming history of wage and hour claims by its employees in Florida and New York for alleged failure to pay overtime and alleged wage theft.
Kyle Bragg, the president of SEIU Lcoal 32BJ, which represents 12,000 airport workers, commented on the bill’s reintroduction:
“The low-road contracting system at our nation’s airports has been hurting working people and their families for too long. While airport workers have come together, organized and forced their employers to raise wages and follow safety regulations, there are still bad actors like the contractor Eulen America which refuse to follow the law and respect workers’ rights,” added Bragg. “Companies like Eulen America are a prime example of why this bill is urgently needed.”[ii]
The bill coincides with Unions for All–a push for elected officials to ensure that every working person in the U.S. has the opportunity to join a union. A key component of that is requiring that companies that receive taxpayer dollars (like the airlines) support good union jobs.