A coalition of unions representing tens of thousands of airline workers urged the Justice Department to step up prosecutions of unruly passengers on Thursday.
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, the group asked the department to pursue and prioritize prosecuting those who assaulted passenger service staff, many of whom were attacked at the airport gates, which are located in the parking lot. tickets and reservations and other airport locations during the pandemic. .
The request comes at a tumultuous time for the airline industry, which began to see a spike early last year in violent and disruptive passengers who have refuse to follow Covid protocols and try interfere with the flight crew.
“The Department has not knowingly pursued federal penalties for individuals who assaulted or obstructed passenger service personnel,” the letter read. It has been signed by six labor organizations, including the AFL-CIO Chamber of Commerce and Transport, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and the International Brotherhood of Teammates.
Greg Regan, president of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Transactions Division, said he was pleased to see the Justice Department take some steps to address the rise in incidents of airline violence, but more needs to be done. more work to deal with passenger assaults. service agent.
“When you see this kind of pervasive violence and abuse against transportation professionals, this is where leadership from the federal government is crucial,” Mr. Regan said.
The Justice Department declined to comment on Thursday’s letter.
The ministry said in November it will Prioritize federal criminal prosecution of commercial aircraft, but many airline and airport employees remain dissatisfied with the pace of federal government action. There have been 499 reports of unruly passengers since the start of the year, but only 80 have been referred to the FBI for criminal review as of Feb. data from the Federal Aviation Administration. In 2021, yes 5,981 unruly passengers report.
According to a Letter of February 10 Some labor organizations are sent to federal officials. The groups pointed to a case at Charlotte Douglas International Airport last year, when an intoxicated passenger verbally and physically assaulted border gate officers who denied him access to a flight.
Airline executives and workers recently begged the federal government to add unruly passengers to a federal no-fly list to ban them from commercial flights. In the first day of this month, Delta Air Lines executives wrote with Mr Garland, arguing it was a “much needed step” to tackle the rise in violence on planes and prevent future incidents.
But some Republican senators have rejected those calls. Eight Republican senators, led by Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, were sent a letter to Mr. Garland on Monday argued that many incidents of violence are related to masked duty on planes and that creating such a list would equate those passengers with terrorists.
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“The release of this list by the DOJ would result in a serious limitation of citizens’ ability to fully exercise their constitutional right to interstate traffic,” the senators wrote. “It also raises serious concerns about future unrelated uses and the potential for the list to expand based on political pressure.”
Union leaders condemned the senators’ objection and said disruptive passengers remained a threat to flight attendants and passengers.
“We have been punched, kicked, spat on and sexually assaulted,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents nearly 50,000 workers at 17 airlines. a statement on Tuesday. “This puts everyone at risk and affects the safety of the flight, which is never acceptable.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/business/labor-groups-urge-justice-dept-to-ramp-up-prosecutions-of-unruly-passengers.html Labor groups urged the Justice Department to step up prosecutions of unruly passengers.