Does everything have to be political? When it comes to big U.S. airlines, I’m beginning to think so.
Most companies in other industries seem to try hard not to get pulled into political disputes. Our country is as divided as we’ve been in decades, and they don’t want to take stands unnecessarily that will turn off big portions of their customer base.
But with airlines, either they or their employees keep getting involved. Is it admirable bravery or unnecessary alienation of customers?
Or the two American Airlines flight attendants who led the movement to get airlines to denounce the federal government’s practice of separating parents from children at border crossings.
Now, through their unions, United and American flight attendants are adding a new one: coming out swinging against President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
From the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, representing 27,000 American Airlines employees:
And, from the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 24,000 United flight attendants:
Kavanaugh has ruled against workers’ access to the courts, owed monetary benefits, and failed to hold employers accountable who evade collective bargaining and discriminate against union members.
I get that these are the statements of the flight attendants’ unions, not the airlines themselves. And I understand that they have the right to free speech, of course.
But I wondered how the airlines and the rank and file employees themselves felt.
Kavanaugh is almost certainly going to be confirmed, since Republicans hold a majority in the U.S. Senate. So the upside of coming out swinging like this isn’t clear to me.
The downside is clear however: the fact that a sizable plurality of both airlines’ customers, at least, support the president and likely don’t want their airline to weigh in on their politics.
I’m thinking of what happened recently when Walmart allowed a third party vendor to market “Impeach 45” baseball jerseys online, and people on Twitter started talking about a boycott. It didn’t take long for Walmart to boot the jerseys from its platform.
So I asked American Airlines and United Airlines employees on Facebook for their take. And the ones I heard from don’t seem too pleased to have the unions weighing in.