Labor unions across the airline industry are outraged at President Donald Trump for siding with Qatar Airways and Air Italy in a recent White House meeting. There’s nothing that brings all sides together like a red herring over American jobs.
Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants (representing United Airlines) called the meeting, “Disrespectful to U.S. workers who have been pleading for our government to enforce agreements so that we can compete on a level playing field.”
Nelson added Trump “is a guy who is supposed to be for American jobs. But he was cozying up to Al Bakar. There was an exchange between them indicating that they go back a long way.”
They do go back a long way and unlike Delta, Qatar Airways is buying USA-made jets from Boeing and jet engines from General Electric. But the whole “cozying up” language strikes me as the shameful “palling around with terrorists” language that marked the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. Read between the lines and listen to the dog whistle.
Nelson also added:
This meeting was billed as an effort to resolve the issue of the Qatar Airways relationship with Air Italy. But the outcome was worse than doing nothing. Donald Trump said a year ago he was going to handle it: now he’s passing the buck.
She means that Trump refused to directly intervene and instructed American and United use the Department of Transportation grievance process. Perhaps because American and United failed to make their case against FedEx, JetBlue, and Qatar Airways…did that thought ever cross her mind? It was not a grand conspiracy.
But Wait, There’s More!
And it is not just Nelson who is angry at President Trump. Lori Bassani, President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (representing American Airlines) expressed shock over the meeting’s outcome.
Trump ran on the issue of keeping American jobs in the U.S. But that’s not how it played out. Instead, the president sided with the Middle East airlines. It was a shock to us.
A shock? Spare me. Only if you deluded yourself in a fairy tale world bereft of facts. Sometimes the truth hurts.
Lastly, we mustn’t forget John Samuelsen, President of the Transport Workers Union, who added, “Foreign carriers should not be allowed to grow into our markets using government subsidies – essentially forcing American workers to compete against foreign governments.” This is the same man who warned of the “bloodiest, ugliest battle that the United States labor movement ever saw” if American Airlines continued to hire overseas mechanics.
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The selective outrage expressed against Air Italy is truly mind boggling to me. Here’s a tiny airline that serves four U.S. routes, including two served by no other carrier, yet is billed as dire threat to American jobs. Meanwhile, even in Italy, the subsidized flag carrier Alitalia continues to operate many more U.S. routes despite being propped up by government bailouts. Yet there isn’t a word of outrage. Not a single word.
Labor unions, like legacy airlines, come together to protest airlines that offer a better product than they do…it’s about shutting out competition, not the subsidies. That’s the inconvenient truth.
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