American Airlines rolled out new uniforms to more than 70,000 of its frontline workers in September. The appearance of the uniforms was well-received, but now American’s flight attendants union is calling for a total recall after saying the outfits have sickened more than 1,000 workers.
Complaints about itching, rashes, headaches and hives surfaced within the first few weeks of the uniform roll-out. American launched an investigation, initially saying that it thought the issues were isolated – possibly some sort of wool allergy.
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But the airline’s flight attendants say the problem has become widespread, “including (for) many … who are quite pleased with the look of the uniform.”
In a memo to its members late Wednesday, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) said “we have received over 1,600 flight attendant reports of suspected uniform reactions that include headaches, rashes, hives, burning skin and eye irritation, itching, and respiratory problems — to name a few.”
“The growing number of reports of suspected reactions, triggered by both direct and indirect contact with the uniform, has prompted APFA to ask that all uniforms be recalled until further joint testing with the company can be completed,” the union said.
American Airlines’ flights attendants will get new uniforms in this design. (Photo: American Airlines)
American Airlines spokesman Ron DeFeo told The Dallas Morning News that the carrier has already done three rounds of testing but that – so far – all results have been “in line with normal standards.”
DeFeo added to the Star-Telegram of Fort Worth that the airline has permitted about 200 attendants to continue wearing their old uniforms. It also has ordered 600 non-wool versions of the new uniforms in the hope of alleviating some of the reactions.
Another round of testing is planned in conjunction with the union. However, the attendants group says at this point, “a remedy that excludes a full recall of the uniform fails to adequately protect our members.”
“To that end, APFA will continue to explore all legal options and consult with additional experts in the field to better understand the results of our ongoing independent testing as well as joint testing moving forward,” the union added in its memo.
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