Labor Department Extends FMLA Protections to Flight Attendants

The IAM praises the Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule that guarantees Flight Attendants are not denied protections afforded by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The passage of the Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act in 2009 established new FMLA leave eligibility requirements that addressed the unique issues of Flight Attendant scheduling. The DOL final rule provides guidance to ensure consistent application throughout the industry and establishes a minimum basic benefit for all Flight Attendants regardless of their carrier.

“Not long after the passage of the FMLA in 1993, IAM-represented Flight Attendants negotiated FMLA provisions that were the envy of the industry,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “The IAM could not wait 20 years for Congress to address their oversight, but the Machinists Union never stopped fighting for all Flight Attendants.”

The FMLA guarantees that eligible workers may take up to 12 weeks to care for themselves or a family member without risk of losing their jobs. But because the original law set a minimum number of hours worked per year, it did not properly translate to flight crew members who have duty-time limits.

“It is gratifying to see the DOL’s final rule be modeled on IAM-negotiated contract language,” said Pantoja.  “It reinforces the fact that the IAM is the preeminent union in the airline industry and the union best able to address the needs of Flight Attendants.”