For Immediate Release: July 18, 2007
Contact: Corey Caldwell 202-434-0586
JetBlue Terminates Union Activist Flight Attendant After Assault By Passenger
Washington, DC - A JetBlue flight attendant and supporter of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) organizing campaign at her carrier was recently terminated for what appears to be a blatant anti-union tactic by JetBlue executives. Last month, off-duty senior flight attendant Mala Amarsingh was getting ready to board a flight from Las Vegas to New York when an intoxicated passenger approached her in the gate area and began to verbally assault her. The drunken passenger, who was denied boarding on previous flights, then spat in her face and eventually resorted to physical threats. Several days later, after filing an incident report, Amarsingh was terminated by JetBlue management for using a curse word in response to the shocking incident.
“I believe that if this happened to any other JetBlue employee, management would not have stooped to termination, but because I am a vocal and proud supporter of AFA-CWA, management saw me as a threat and used this incident as a pretext to get rid of me,” said Amarsingh. “I love being a flight attendant and I have been a loyal employee. It is unfortunate that JetBlue management chose to condone physical and verbal assaults from a passenger as a means to cover up their union busting.”
Union busting, often referred to as a union avoidance campaign, unfortunately is standard practice by employers. According to American Rights at Work, over 82 percent of employers hire high priced union busting consultants to fight union organizing drives. However, in the case of Amarsingh, being physically and verbally assaulted was all it took for JetBlue to destroy her career.
“The actions of JetBlue management in this situation are deplorable,” exclaimed Patricia Friend, AFA-CWA International President. “Ms. Amarsingh was assaulted, and instead of standing up for an employee who has given a great deal to the company, management decided to use this incident as an opportunity to slow the progress of an organizing campaign. This action clearly illustrates why JetBlue flight attendants need the protection AFA-CWA can provide them. If management will not stand behind their employees after an assault, how can they claim to have their employees’ best interests in mind?”
For over 60 years, the Association of Flight Attendants has been serving as the voice for flight attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill. More than 55,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines come together to form AFA-CWA, the world’s largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org.