WASHINGTON, DC – Transportation union leaders and labor advocates from the United States and Europe met today to discuss Norwegian Air International (NAI)’s application for a foreign air carrier permit, which is currently under review by the US Department of Transportation (DOT). Both the American and European labor unions strongly oppose NAI’s business plan as it circumvents Norwegian labor laws, undermines the current safety and security standards for aviation in the US and Europe, and does not follow the labor provisions put forth in the US – EU Open Skies agreement.
“Norwegian is not offering competition, it is practicing manipulation,” stated Sara Nelson, AFA International president. “U.S. Aviation is integral to our nation’s economic interests, as well as our safety and security. We fly our troops to missions set to defend our freedoms and we delight in the flights when we can bring them home again. The hundreds of thousands of workers who are the life of U.S. Airlines must not be undercut if we value fair competition and the safest transportation system in the world.”
Representatives of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), and the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) were joined by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), the European Cockpit Association (ECA), Norway-based Parat representing cabin crew, and the Norwegian Airline Pilots Association (NF).
The parties released a Joint Declaration on the eve of the U.S.-EU Joint Committee meeting reaffirming their opposition to NAI’s business plan. “We welcome robust competition within the industry,” the parties affirm, but “unless this competition is based on a foundation of respect for fundamental labor rights and fair business practices the economic gains will be few and short lived, while the long-term job losses will be staggering.”
Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member-elect of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, also joined the meeting. “As someone who has closely studied aviation issues for decades, I can confidently say this airline’s proposal to operate in the U.S. is a non-starter,” DeFazio said. “American consumers expect and deserve airlines that are both affordable and safe, so Norwegian Air International’s blatant attempt to skirt labor, regulatory and safety standards is unconscionable. The sooner the U.S. Department of Transportation officially denies this application, the better.”
The transatlantic labor meeting was the latest effort as part of a diverse campaign, launched earlier this year in Oslo, Norway, to urge DOT to deny NAI’s application. Last week ALPA, AFA, IAM, TWU, and TTD were joined by the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) and the International Organization of Masters Mates and Pilots (MM&P), as well as major airlines, in asking lawmakers to oppose NAI’s application. Both American and European labor advocates are working hard to show their support against NAI’s application. European pilot and cabin crew unions along with KLM, Air France, and Lufthansa have signed a petition to show their support in urging the DOT to deny NAI.