American Airlines vs. Flight Attendant Union – The Uniform Sickness Saga Continues!


American Airlines and the union representing the airline’s flight attendants are still at odds to whether their newly issued uniform is causing health issues with management now wearing them as well.

A small number of AA Executives and Middle Managers have now started wearing the uniform to work to show that there is nothing wrong with the wardrobe, a move that didn’t meet with approval by the unions.

As could be expected it didn’t take long for union representatives to come out and decry the action of American Airlines management and felt offended by the behavior.

The whole saga was published in the Chicago Tribune this week (see here).

Are the new uniforms for flight attendants and other crew members at American Airlines safe to wear?

About half a dozen American Airlines executives and middle managers are so sure the new uniforms that debuted in September are harmless that they have begun to wear the wool-based outfits to work.

These are the same uniforms that generated about 2,200 complaints from employees, who said the clothing causes hives, wheezing, coughing and headaches.

American Airlines declined to name all of the executives who are wearing the uniforms but did disclose that Hector Adler, vice president for flight services, had ordered a uniform and is expected to don it in the next week or so.

Taylor Garland, a spokeswoman for the Assn. of Flight Attendants, fired back at the airline executives who are wearing the uniforms. The association represents members from 18 airlines.

“It’s insulting. Instead of acknowledging legitimate concerns of their employees, American Airlines management is pulling a publicity stunt,” she said.

Of course it’s a publicity stunt, but so is the permanent outcry of this particular union. American has issued the new uniform to over 70,000 employees and received roughly over 2,000 complaints regarding that. I have written about this topic previously (see here) and the particular issue isn’t gaining any weight the longer it’s being kept alive.

It’s very common that a certain percentage of the population is allergic to specific materials. Just like plenty of people can’t wear lambswool. You are talking about a lower than 3% rate of all employees if you take these complaints at face value and American has offered non-wool uniforms to those affected.

… Meanwhile, the union that represents American Airlines’ flight attendants, the Assn. of Professional Flight Attendants, filed a formal grievance with the airline, saying the uniforms threaten the health of the flight attendants. In the grievance letter, the union demanded that the airline reimburse flight attendants for the cost of medical bills and give them time off to recover from any illnesses caused by the clothing.

American Airlines said it has agreed to team up with Ross’ union to perform a chemical test on the uniforms — the fourth in a series of tests.

American Airlines said the previous three tests have shown no unhealthful levels of harmful chemicals in the clothing.

The more you read about this, the more you come under the impression that these complaints come from people who are generally unhappy with changes of whatever nature. On top of that, yes there might be certain health issues involved but if you are allergic against something and 97% of the population is not then these are YOUR health issues and you have to deal with them.


I’m the last person to apologize for an airline, especially American Airlines, but the company has gone to great length in order to vet this new attire and conducted extensive tests. They even offer a uniform made of an alternative material to the staff that is affected by this. Yet all this is still not good enough.

Is American supposed to scrap 68,000 Uniforms because 2,000 staff either don’t like them or have some sort of reaction against the material? Maybe these 2,000 need to re-evaluate if it’s really the new uniform that’s giving them troubles and consider quitting their job.

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