Rep. Hirono Introduces “Airline First Responder Workplace Fairness Act”


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Rep. Hirono Introduces “Airline First Responder Workplace Fairness Act”

By Mike Mitchell

January 29, 2012 - On Wednesday, Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) of Hawaii Hirono introduced legislation the “Airline First Responder Workplace Fairness Act” that promotes fairness and safety to flight attendants.  

The bill, HR 3824, is to ensure that the Federal Aviation Administration addresses fatigue issues which could impair performance of flight attendants. Hirono introduced the bill which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. 

Flight attendants serve as first responders responsible for the safety and well-being of passengers on an aircraft. The responsibilities of flight attendants as first responders have grown since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. 

Since 2009, the Department of Labor has classified flight attendants as `Essential Transportation Workers’ along with pilots and air traffic controllers. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to address pilot fatigue in recognition of safety concerns induced by fatigue. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is working to address fatigue issues for air traffic controllers through a Fatigue Risk Management System Work Group. Fatigue among flight attendants is a pervasive concern that needs to be addressed further by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) which represents the 19,900 US-based flight attendants, President Laura Glading said, "This is legislation APFA leadership has been pushing for and helping to draft for some time, and its introduction in the House represents a major victory over management on the subject of Flight Attendant fatigue.  

If this bill is adopted the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration will have 60 days to establish a flight attendant duty time limitations and rest requirements. An Aviation Rulemaking Committee shall be established and it shall be comprised of aviation safety subject matter experts, aviation labor representatives, and aviation industry stakeholders. 

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Aviation Rulemaking Committee shall consider existing research, including the findings in the reports of Civil Aerospace Medical Institute studies on flight attendant fatigue; and develop and submit recommendations for the Administrator to be included in a final rule to minimize flight attendant fatigue. The Administrator shall then issue regulations to minimize flight attendant fatigue based on the published recommendations of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee. 


After the receipt of the recommendations of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee convened under section 3, the Administrator shall issue not later than 1 year after such receipt, a notice of proposed rulemaking; and not later than 18 months after the receipt, a final rule. Glading further sated “this is significant legislation because it continues to recognize the incredibly important role we play on board the aircraft as first responders.  Congresswoman Hirono’s bill is a testament to APFA’s efforts on Capitol Hill and our active participation in the Coalition.” 

Congresswoman Hirono serves on two key U.S. House committees: the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Elected to Congress in 2006, Hirono is now serving her third term representing Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Congresswoman's district includes rural Oahu, the seven Neighbor Islands, and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

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