My Heroes Have Always Been Unionists

In all the hullaballoo about the heroic resue of the passengers of the airplane that crashed into the river off of Manhatten (which The New York Times also used as an excuse to stop reporting about Gaza) the press seems to have overlooked how many of the resuers were union members.

In fact, all of them were.

As Marcy Wheeler pointed out on Emptywheel:

What they are not telling you is just about every single one of these heroes is a union member.

They are union members who got that that extensive safety and job training thanks to their union contracts.

Sullenberger, with 40 years of flight experience, served as instructor and safety committee chairman for the Air Line Pilots (ALPA). Following, the US Airways merger with America West, the airline’s pilots are now members of an independent union.

The crew of three flight attendants who shepherded the passengers safely out the emergency exits are members of the Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). Says AFA-CWA President Patricia Friend:

Flight attendants are highly trained safety and security professionals and today’s successful evacuation is an overwhelming example of the necessary role flight attendants serve on board the aircraft. Flight attendants receive extensive training on emergency evacuations and each year they undergo additional training to ensure their proficiency.

The air traffic controllers who helped route the Airbus A320 around Manhattan, after Sullenberger reported that a bird strike had shut down both engines, are members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA). As Reuters reports:

According to controllers, an “eerie calm” defined controller and cockpit communications as options dwindled.

There are fewer controllers working longer hours because of Bush’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has refused to bargain a contract with the union for nearly three years. Yet the controllers continue to “Guide you home,” as their motto states. Says Wheeler:

Someday they will rename National Airport (serving Washington, D.C.) for the work these men and women do to keep us safe in the air.

The ferry crews that immediately responded when they saw the plane in the river are Seafarers (SIU) members. The SIU provides extensive safety training for its members. Marine Engineers (MEBA) members pilot many of the ferries and fireboats that responded. Those police and fireboats that arrived to pull passengers to safety are crewed by members of the Fire Fighters (IAFF) and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA).  As Wheeler points out:

They are the men and women who performed so heroically on 9/11.

Congratulations to all the brave men and women union members who performed so heroically yesterday.

The point to be made here is that the folks on duty that day were well-rested, well trained, not overworked or stressed that their family had no health insurance – and thus could focus on the job at hand, flying airplanes. When they get interviewed they say they were “just doing their job”… and they were. They aren’t superheroes, just ordinary people stepping up to a difficult situation.


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