A Former Top Government Official Just Obliterated Norwegian Air’s Job-Killing Scheme

IAM members march at a #DenyNAI rally in front of the White House. Hundreds came out to tell the Obama administration to protect U.S. aviation jobs and deny Norwegian Air International’s bid to drive down the entire industry’s wages and benefits.

John D. Porcari, the former deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation, knows a thing or two about global aviation agreements. He helped negotiate the U.S.-European Union deal that lays out labor standards, among other criteria, for transatlantic flights.

But Porcari hadn’t waded into the controversial, and complicated, debate on Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) plan to operate flights to and from the U.S. – until now.

“Let’s set the record straight,” Porcari says in a newly-published op-ed in the Huffington Post.

NAI is requesting to launch a complex international airline operation that at its core challenges explicit provisions of the agreement, in particular those specifically designed to protect high labor standards for cabin crews on both sides of the Atlantic,” says Porcari.

NAI, a subsidiary of Norway-based Norwegian Air Shuttle, is incorporated in Ireland, freeing it from Norway’s strong labor, tax and regulatory laws. The low-cost carrier plans to use Bangkok-based flight crews employed through a Singaporean hiring agency, allowing them to undercut wage and labor standards at existing airlines.

The IAM, other airline unions, and several major U.S. and European carriers have been raising red flags about NAI’s scheme for more than two years.

Despite this, DOT in April tentatively approved NAI’s application to operate transatlantic routes. DOT contends labor provisions in the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement are not a basis for rejecting an applicant’s bid.

Not so, says Porcari.

“Trade agreements such as the [Air Transport Agreement] must benefit all sectors of our society, including U.S. workers,” says Porcari. “That, I believe, is what we accomplished in the ATA, and now the U.S. needs to uphold the core labor protection provisions of the agreement.”

READ: Setting the record straight on Norwegian Air and the U.S-EU Open Skies agreement

The IAM and its allies support a bipartisan bill that would prevent NAI from beating down U.S. airline workers’ hard-fought pay and benefits.

“Congress and the administration need to fight for American workers and stop the DOT’s senseless policy misadventures,” said IAM Transportation General Vice President Sito Pantoja.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to deny NAI entry into the U.S. aviation market by demanding that your U.S. Representative support H.R. 5090