As many of us have personally witnessed, JetBlue aircraft have recently been experiencing a significant increase in the number of fume events. IFCs have endured emergency landings, hospital stays, and, in some cases, suffered career-ending injuries due to toxic fumes entering our cabins. Your TWU team has been aggressively working to fix this situation and has been met with nothing but contempt from JetBlue management. Leadership has gone as far as denying that these events are happening or that they have terminated IFCs for missing work due to illnesses sustained during fume events. The company and your elected officials need to hear from you about the importance of this issue if we are going to win.
In two sets of correspondence, your union raised serious concerns with the facts that have allowed these situations to develop. First, in a letter from TWU International President John Samuelsen to JetBlue corporate leadership, we asked the company to work with us to stop these events from happening and to stop disciplining IFCs who sustained on-the-job injuries during these events. Instead, in their reply, the company asked TWU to “stop circulating cards” encouraging IFCs to report these incidents when they occur. In following discussions, JetBlue management made it clear that they have no intention of either addressing the cause of these events or of ceasing their discipline for crewmembers dealing with major health problems caused by such events.
TWU then went directly to our allies in Congress. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative John Garamendi (D-CA), who have introduced legislation which would force airlines to work to prevent toxic fume events from happening, wrote to JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes to ask what the company’s plan was for addressing these ongoing fume events. In their response, the company flat out denied that these events are dangerous saying “we found that none of the reported odor events resulted in JetBlue crewmembers or customers receiving unhealthy air.” In effect, management is denying the claims of dozens of JetBlue IFCs who have tested positive for monoxide poisoning, been subject to long hospital stays with nerve damage and unexplainable fatigue, or endured career-ending central nervous system damage.
This cannot stand.
We are now forced to go above the heads of JetBlue management, straight to the U.S. Congress which has the power to force our company to acknowledge and address fume events. We encourage everyone to participate in our call-to-action, letting your elected leaders know about this issue and encouraging them to co-sponsor our legislation to fix it. We also invite all who can to join us for a lobby day in Washington, DC on November 20 (please contact your IFC Legislative Committee if you are interested in joining us) where we will take our message directly to decision-makers. We must make it clear to JetBlue management that our health is the top priority.