Flight Attendant Union Gains Introduction of Senate Legislation Aimed at Stopping Human Trafficking

Washington, DC (March 7, 2016) — The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) today praised the introduction of the Stop Trafficking On Planes (STOP) Act to fight human trafficking with proper training for aviation workers, led by U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Similar bipartisan legislation, Secure Our Skies Act, was introduced in the House last month by U.S. Representatives Dina Titus (D-NV-01) and Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10).

“Everyone recognizes the horror of human trafficking, but we must turn our outrage into action,” said AFA International President Sara Nelson. “We commend Senator Klobuchar and Senator Warner for introducing this legislation that will allow us to stop traffickers from using our skyways as a means to transport innocents to a life of slavery. Trained Flight Attendants can serve as 100,000 eyes in the skies to save lives by recognizing and reporting signs of trafficking.”

The bill requires training for flight attendants and pilots of air carriers to to identify and report human trafficking.

“Flight attendants and other airline employees are on the front lines in the battle against trafficking. They want to help, and we need to arm them with the tools they need to identify and report these heinous crimes,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “Trafficking is now the third largest criminal enterprise in the world. As a former prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand the horror and violence women and children suffer as victims of human trafficking. We need to step up efforts to stop trafficking wherever it exists – on land, at sea and in the sky. I look forward to working with Senator Warner and airline workers to advance this important bill.”

The infrastructure and training mechanisms are already in place through the Blue Lightning Initiative, led by the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection working directly with the Department of Transportation, launched almost three years ago on June 6, 2013. Blue Lightning teaches airline personnel on a voluntary basis about common circumstances with human trafficking in order to recognize and report these instances to law enforcement for swift action. AFA launched a public campaign on June 1, 2015 to promote the provisions of the STOP Act.

“Flight attendants are our eyes in the sky and are uniquely positioned to play a key role in fighting this scourge. By training flight attendants and airline employees to spot and report human trafficking, we can help save victims and bring to justice those committing this heinous crime,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). “This bill will improve coordination and utilize infrastructure already in place to allow our airlines and our law enforcement to better combat human trafficking.”

“The infrastructure already exists in aviation, we just have to tap into it so law enforcement can achieve justice for the victims.” Nelson concluded.