The union which represents more than 28,000 flight attendants at American Airlines has served the Dallas Fort Worth-based carrier with a cease and desist letter and has threatened to sue the airline if it tries to prevent crew members from wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the union logo.
Earlier this month, American Airlines threatened to discipline flight attendants who wore bright red t-shirts that feature the logo of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants while they were at AA’s training center in Texas. The threat provoked a furious response from the union.
American Airlines claimed the logo constitutes a slogan, and the airline reminded crew members in an internal memo that they are banned from wearing slogan t-shirts while they attend annual refresher training.
The union almost immediately submitted an internal grievance over the issue, arguing that a logo t-shirt did not constitute a slogan and was, therefore, allowed to be worn by flight attendants.
American Airlines did not rescind the memo, leading to the latest legal salvo from the union when another crew member attended annual refresher training wearing the red union logo t-shirt on October 12.
“Conceptually, a shirt with the APFA logo is analogous to a shirt that displays the Nike logo, a sports team emblem, or even the AA logo,” wrote the union staff attorney Alyssa Urban in a cease and desist letter to American Airlines on Tuesday.
“If Flight Attendants are permitted to wear such attire to CQ [annual refresh training] – which they are – then there is not a valid or legal reason for AA to prohibit Flight Attendants from wearing an APFA logo shirt to CQ,” the cease and desist letter continued.
Urban claimed the flight attendant who was wearing the union t-shirt was targeted by a manager because just days earlier, the union had targeted AA’s head of inflight and guest services, Brady Byrnes, by personally issuing a letter of no confidence to him at the airline’s head office.
“It is no coincidence that the first time AA prohibits a Flight Attendant from wearing the APFA logo shirt to training is one day after APFA confronts Mr. Byrnes with a Vote of No Confidence,” wrote Urban.
The union claims AA may have breached the Railway Labor Act and has called on the airline to cease and desist from retaliating against crew members or intimidating and threatening them.
“In the event AA refuses to cease and desist the above stated unlawful actions, APFA is prepared to takeany and all necessary legal action to protect its members, including seeking to enjoin AA’s union-busting and anti-union animus conduct,” the cease and desist letter concluded.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.