IAM and Other Transportation Unions Raise Concerns About Customer Assaults

The IAM joined other transportation unions in raising urgent concerns regarding assaults against passenger service agents working across airports in the United States. The letter was addressed to President Biden, U.S. Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

READ: Unions urge Biden to protect airport agents from unruly passengers The Hill

The letter urges governmental action to address the increase in assaults against passenger service agents, including the prosecution of abusive passengers.

“Airline gate agents are a vital part of a multilayered airline security and safety process at the airport,” reads the letter. “Our members are responsible for checking passengers into their flights, checking luggage to comply with airline weight and balance limits, and boarding passengers onto the aircraft in an orderly and structured way.”

Over the past few months, passenger service members across the country have experienced serious physical and verbal assault and harassment incidents, with few repercussions for the offending passenger imposed by law enforcement.

The FAA has reported a total of 5,981 passenger incidents in 2021, which is up sharply from previous years.

“The IAM supports the push for more substantial penalties against unruly passengers who assault passenger service agents and other airline workers,” said Richard Johnsen, IAM Chief of Staff to the International President.

“Our union continues to ring the alarm and highlight the need of enforcing the laws for assault against all airline workers. The best way to curb these unfortunate incidents is for the interagency working group to listen to the impacted workers in the airline industry. We must all work together to end the assaults that afflict our members.” 

The labor coalition expressed the need for all frontline gate agents to expect a safe workplace, free from the threat of violence, and increased cooperation is required to improve the safety of these employees.

Read the complete letter


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Updated: February 17, 2022 — 8:07 am