Liz Shuler and Sara Nelson, both in their 40s and from Oregon, lead the undeclared race to succeed Richard Trumka at the union federation
Sara Nelson could head the powerful AFL-CIO
From this platform, AFA safety Agenda would be elevated
What issues would impact FAA regulations?
“Liz Shuler and Sara Nelson have many things in common – both are from Oregon, both are in their 40s, and both are prominent labor leaders. Shuler is secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, Nelson is president of the Association of Flight Attendants.
…Nelson, 46, is a charismatic speaker and is often viewed as a militant – she likes to shake things up.
“It’s really exciting that it’s two women,” said Janice Fine, a professor of labor studies at Rutgers. “We know that a majority of the workforce is women…”
As for Nelson, Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers, said: “I have great respect for Sara. She’s been a tremendous help to our union.” He said she had taken a leading role in urging Congress to enact a law that would rescue the mineworkers’ beleaguered pension fund. “She is probably as good a spokesperson as labor has,” Roberts said. “She is a great speaker. She is very passionate and fiery. She inspires.”
Having finished college with $45,000 in student debt, Nelson felt lucky to land a flight attendant’s job with United Airlines in 1996. With many co-workers facing sexual harassment and scheduling problems, she became a union activist, and in 2002, she was named the flight attendants’ communications director, locking horns with United after it filed for bankruptcy protection.Nelson was elected union vice-president in 2011, heading its successful No Knives Ever Again Campaign to prohibit airlines from letting passengers carry knives. She won the union’s presidency in 2014 and has led efforts to unionize flight attendants at Cathay Pacific, Virgin America and Norwegian Airlines.
Some union officials say organized labor, urgently needing to reverse its decline, could use a charismatic leader like Nelson. She performs well on TV and electrifies crowds, as she did recently at a Democratic Socialists of America dinner and a Unite Here hotel workers’ convention. Nelson is an outspoken advocate of using strikes as a weapon for workers to make gains.
Some labor officials said she crisscrosses the country giving speeches not just because she feels solidarity with other unions and progressive groups, but because she realizes that many AFL-CIO insiders favor Shuler – and that she needs to generate rank-and-file support for herself.
Nelson and others say the Green New Deal wouldn’t eliminate nearly that many union jobs. Roberts, the mineworkers’ president, defended Nelson, saying. “I just appeared on a panel with her, and she very much says union jobs have to be protected as part of any Green New Deal.”
Having an aviation person, if Ms. Nelson is elected president of the nation’s top union (54 national different unions in the group, and they speak for over 10 million workers), MIGHT move some of the labor issues to the fore. The cover of this posting is a graphic representation of the AFA priorities listed on its website. With the possibility of a sympathetic ear in the White House by 2021, the AFA agenda should be reviewed:
- #MeToo in the Air
- Air Quality
- Bridge The Gap
- Climate Change
- Mandatory Crewmember Self-Defense Training
- Stop Outsourcing: Enforce Trade Agreements
- Traveling with Animals in Aviation
Several of these points will involve the FAA’s authority. Something that AFA already claims as a victory (and why it’s not listed above) is the Duplicate Regulation by OSHA. Definition of safety is not a single vision function. How the FAA regulates its jurisdiction depends on its statutes, mission and resources. OSHA has a different mandate from Congress and a history of actions which create policy precedents. Those perspective can result in conflicting decisions, making the employers’ actions guaranteed to violate some directive—INTOLERABLE.
 Ms. Nelson also crafted the campaign for “100,00 Eyes in the Skies,” which successfully resulted in mandatory training for Flight Attendants to recognize and report human trafficking.Share this article: