May 14, 2016
By John Quinn, LaborPress USA
Washington, DC – On May 12th, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) protested the recent Department of Transportation (DOT) decision that could grant Norwegian Air International (NAI) a foreign air carrier permit and access to the U.S. aviation market.
Hundreds of airline workers participated in this demonstration taking place in front of the White House. “Any airline that registers its aircraft in foreign countries with lax safety and security standards and 'rents' its cabin crews from countries with no labor laws to lower costs shouldn't be welcome in the United States.” “It’s time the Obama Administration reverse this job-killing decision by the DOT and support U.S. airline workers,” said General Vice President Sito Pantoja. Machinists Union members were on Capitol Hill all last week demanding Congress act to deny NAI access to the U.S. market.
On April 15, 2016 the DOT issued a “show cause order” that could grant NAI a foreign air carrier permit to operate transatlantic flights in violation of the 2010 US-EU Open Skies Agreement, which has a specific provision – Article 17 bis – that states that, “opportunities created by the Agreement are not intended to undermine labor standards or the labor-related rights and principles contained in the Parties’ respective laws.”
Norwegian has adopted a “flags of convenience” business model in which it registers its NAI subsidiary outside Norway, in this case Ireland, to skirt Norwegian labor law and other regulations to lower its costs and undercut the market with flight and cabin crews recruited from low-wage countries and employed by a hiring agency.
“Any airline that registers its aircraft in foreign countries with lax safety and security standards and 'rents' its cabin crews from countries with no labor laws to lower costs shouldn't be welcome in the United States,” continued Pantoja. “Make no mistake: NAI's scheme to gain entry into the US aviation market will unleash downward pressure on the wages, benefits and working conditions here in the United States and cause airline workers to lose their jobs. That is unacceptable.”
*** The IAM is the largest airline union in the world, and among the largest labor unions representing approximately 620,000 members.