The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) joined a coalition of labor organizations to call on Congress to support the “Fair and Open Skies Act” introduced by US Representative Peter Defazio (D-OR). The legislation, among other things, would give the Department of Transportation (DOT) the authority needed to protect the wages, benefits and working conditions of US aviation workers by not permitting foreign airlines to operate in the US if such carriers utilize a “flag-of-convenience” business model, which has shown to undermine US aviation workers’ terms of employment and distort market competition.
“The Fair and Open Skies Act would give the DOT the authority it needs to protect wages and working conditions,” said Richie Johnsen, IAM Chief of Staff to the International President. “To avoid important employment, tax and safety regulations of its home country, or otherwise undermine labor standards also undermines the American Aviation worker. This pro worker legislation will protect against that.”
Flag of convenience carriers are foreign air carriers established in a country other than the home country of its majority owner. This is done in order to avoid regulations of the home country, which undermines labor standards in the industry, and in the countries where the flag of convenience carrier operates.
Norse Atlantic Airways, the successor to the recently extinct Norwegian Air Shuttle, has been introduced as the latest foreign carrier to utilize the flag-of-convenience model. The airline plans to begin US operations this December.
The maritime industry understands the damage the flag of convenience business model can have on working people. When this business model began in the maritime industry, it destroyed an industry once known for good jobs. Non-U.S. workers from countries with non-existent safety and labor standards now face horrendous working conditions and poverty wages.