American Airlines Flight Attendants Are Protesting in 15 Cities Today. Here Are the Details (Plus Why They Chose This Day to Do It)

It’s the busiest travel week of the year. Now, American Airlines flight attendants say they’ll kick it off with a nice, big protest in 15 of the airline’s most important U.S. cities.

The reason? Their “extreme dissatisfaction” with American Airlines, they said in a press release.

To be clear, this isn’t a strike. There’s no reason to think that any American Airlines flight attendants who are scheduled to work won’t show up, or that flights will be affected.

But the union representing flight attendants say they chose this weekend for a protest in order to commemorate what happened when they actually did go on strike–25 years ago Sunday.

November 18, 1993

November 18 was a Thursday in 1993, one week before Thanksgiving, and American Airlines flight attendants walked off the job, crippling the airline.

What’s more, they promised to stay away for exactly 11 days, which basically meant the entire Thanksgiving travel rush. American scrambled to fly as many planes as it could, but many flights were canceled.

Meanwhile, the airline moved planes around the country to places where anticipated that flight attendants might cross picket lines, or else that they’d have other employees available who’d been trained to work as replacements.

In the end, President Clinton stepped in. The strike ended officially five days after it launched, and well ahead of Thanksgiving. 

‘Extreme dissatisfaction’

Now, the union says it feels like it’s still fighting over the same issues, a quarter century later.

“It’s unbelievable that we are here 25 years later still fighting for fair and equitable working conditions for our flight attendants. Our members chose this historic date to show their extreme dissatisfaction,” the union’s national president, Lauri Bassani, said in a press release.

Among the things she says they’re upset about: “failed scheduling systems, a punitive new sick policy, and continued contract and seniority violations.”

Here are the cities where the union said it’s holding airport protests between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time.

  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Phoenix
  • Dallas
  • Charlotte
  • Miami
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • St. Louis
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Boston
  • New York
  • Washington D.C.
  • Chicago

‘An outstanding flight attendant team’

In a statement to the Chicago Business Journal, which reported on the protests, American Airlines said:

“We have an outstanding flight attendant team that takes terrific care of our customers on every flight. There has been a tremendous amount of change for our team, and we respect their right to voice their opinion.

We will continue to work closely with our partners at the Association of Professional Flight Attendants to prioritize the needs of our 27,000 flight attendants.”

Again, it’s a protest, not a strike. No need to panic over the idea of canceled flights. We can’t overemphasize that enough.

That’s a good thing, because Thanksgiving travel this year is projected to be the busiest since 2005, with more than 54 million Americans taking to the roads and skies for the big national holiday.

As for what happened in 1993? The flight attendants went back on the job, but American Airlines still took a hit–both because of severe wintry weather in some parts of the country, but also because passengers had made other plans before the strike was canceled.

Anecdotally, the New York Times reported at the time, many American Airlines flights took off at well under 50 percent capacity on the day before Thanksgiving.

“This may have been a smaller crowd than we expected,” a spokeswoman for the airline said back then. “It’s no secret that many of our passengers have booked on other carriers.”

With 1 Simple Move, Google Showed Yet Again Why It's Not the Company You Thought It Was

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

They hope, though, that you don’t notice when those promises become, well, a little diluted over time.

It’s the thought that counts, after all.

One thought offered by Google when it committed itself to your health was that Deep Mind, its profound subsidiary that uses AI to help solve health problems, was that its “data will never be connected to Google accounts or services.”

Cut to not very long at all and Deep Mind was last week rolled into, oh, Google.

In an odd coincidence, this move also necessitated that an independent review board, there to check on Deep Mind’s work with healthcare professionals, was disappeared.

This caused those who keep a careful eye on Google — such as NYU research fellow Julia Powles — to gently point out the company’s sleight of mouth.

This is TOTALLY unacceptable. DeepMind repeatedly, unconditionally promised to *never* connect people’s intimate, identifiable health data to Google. Now it’s announced…exactly that. This isn’t transparency, it’s trust demolition. 

This is, though, the problem with tech companies. 

We looked at them as if they were run by wizards doing things we could never understand.

Any time we became even slightly suspicious, the tech companies murmured that we should trust them. Because, well, we really didn’t understand what sort of world they were building.

Now, we’re living in it. A world where everything is tradable and hackable and nothing is sacred.

A world where the most common headlines about the company seem to begin: Google fined..

I asked Google whether it understood the reaction to its latest Oh, you caught us, yes, we’re going to do things differently now move. 

The company referred me to a blog post it wrote explaining its actions.

In it, Google uses phrases like major milestone and words like excited

It also offered me these words from Dr. Dominic King a former UK National Health Service surgeon and researcher who will be leading the Deep Mind Streams team: 

The public is rightly concerned about what happens with patient data. I want to be totally clear. This data is not DeepMind’s or Google’s – it belongs to our partners, whether the NHS or internationally. We process it according to their instructions – nothing more.

King added:

At this stage our contracts have not moved across to Google and will not without our partners’ consent. The same applies to the data that we process under these contracts.

At this stage.

Oh, but you know how creepily the online world works.

You know, for example, that advertising keeps popping up at the strangest times and for the strangest things.

Within minutes, certain apps on my phone were full of ads for Google’s new Pixel 3 phone. Which I could buy most easily, said the ads, at a Verizon store. 

Who would be surprised, then, if personal health data began to be linked with other Google services, such as advertising?

Too many tech companies know only one way to do business — to grow and wrap their tentacles around every last aspect of human life. 

The likes of Google operate on a basis of a FOMO paranoia that even teens and millennials might envy.

They need to know everything about you, in case they miss out on an advertising opportunity.

You are not a number. You are a lot of numbers. 

And your numbers help Google make even bigger numbers.

Will that ever change? Probably not.