Flight Attendants Call on Senate to Deny Trading Status to Nations Involved in Trafficking

May 07, 2015

Washington, D.C. – Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, today sent this letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid calling for “bipartisan leadership in support of stamping out modern day slavery around the world.”  Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced an amendment to deny expedited consideration of any trade agreement with a country on the State Department’s list of Tier III human trafficking to the Senate “Fast Track” bill; his amendment was adopted by a strong bipartisan vote.

The text of the letter follows, or click here.

Dear Leaders McConnell and Reid:

As the largest Flight Attendant union representing aviation’s first responders at 18 airlines and leading the efforts to stop Human Trafficking, I urge you in support of the amendment offered by Senator Menendez of New Jersey to S. 995 to deny expedited consideration to any trade agreement with a country on the State Department’s list of Tier III human trafficking countries.

Since 2009, AFA has been a key partner in the Blue Campaign, the Department of Homeland Security’s continuing campaign to promote the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice. Until we stamp out this modern day slavery, we call on Congress to remain consistent with every piece of legislation to make clear that U.S. lawmakers agree on one key principle: freedom.

To be clear, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA does not support Congress ceding its authority to the Executive Branch through Trade Promotion Authority. Further, we believe your leadership must demand that any discussion on trade must be cast aside entirely if it does not first promote a world free of slavery. This amendment does that and 60,000 Flight Attendants look to your bipartisan leadership in support of stamping out slavery in our country and around the world.

A Tier III ranking indicates that the country’s government does not comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and is not making significant efforts to do so. The amendment passed the Senate Finance Committee by a strong, bipartisan 16-10 vote. AFA believes that it is critical that this provision remain in the bill, as failure to do so could result in expediting consideration of trade agreements that reward egregious abusers of human rights who either condone or fail to prevent human trafficking.

Within the global struggle to combat a problem of epidemic proportions, Flight Attendants, when properly trained, are in a unique position to identify human traffickers and assist their victims.

Innocents at Risk say human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today, producing $32 billion annually. Every day, young women and children are being bought and sold, used and tortured. Please help put a stop to this suffering. Countries, like Malaysia, that turn a blind eye to this injustice should not be granted preferred trading status. Therefore, I urge you to protect the millions of men, women and children who may be taken and kept against their will. Keep the Menendez amendment in S. 995.