TSA, FAA and Airlines Accused of Not Protecting Transportation Staff

The AFA-CWA has requested that the FAA institute passenger screening methods to help prevent the spread of swine flu, and to protect members of the union who work in close contact with travelers in areas with known outbreaks of the virus. Flight attendants want to be allowed to wear protective masks and gloves if they see fit, as well as to be able to take sick leave without losing allotted sick time.

A representative of the Air Transport Association said that it will wait for orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before employing any further flu prevention methods than are currently being used. At present, the CDC is only recommending basic prevention measures when no swine flu symptoms are present in passengers or crew—covering nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, washing hands regularly, staying home if sick—and only recommending the use of gloves and face masks or respirators when in contact with a sick passenger or crew member.

The American Federation of Government Employees has also requested that measures be taken by the Transportation Security Administration to protect its workforce of Transportation Security Officers. The letter written by the AFGE to the TSA requests that any Transportation Security Officer be provided with gloves, hand sanitizer and a proper respirator if requested, that TSOs be allowed testing for swine flu, and that if any TSOs become sick with swine flu, that they be granted administrative leave rather than using sick days.

And while airline workers in the United States may feel as if not enough is being done to prevent the spread of swine flu, The International Transport Workers’ Union says that crew members for Mexicana, Aeromexico and Mexican regional airlines (all based in Mexico, the country hardest hit by the swine flu so far) came to an agreement that flight crews can wear facemasks and gloves whenever they feel at risk of transmitting the virus.

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