Flight attendants union warns of possible airport chaos if there's another shutdown

Image: Sara Nelson, the International President of the Association of Fligh
Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, speaks during a press conference on aviation safety during the government shutdown at Reagan National Airport in Virginia on Jan. 24, 2019. Copyright Andrew Caballero-Reynolds AFP - Getty Images file
By Dareh Gregorian with NBC News Politics
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Talks between Republicans and Democrats stalled over the weekend, increasing fears negotiators won't be able to strike a deal.


The head of the flight attendants' union on Monday called for demonstrations at the country's airports if there's another government shutdown — and warned that her members might have to stop working.

While avoiding the term "strike," Association of Flight Attendants-CWA head Sara Nelson said the recently concluded 35-day partial shutdown had stretched the airline industry to the breaking point and "made all of us less safe."

And, she noted, flight attendants have a right to a safe workplace.

"We will not participate in a system that is not safe," Nelson said. She called on Americans to come out to the country's airports for mass demonstrations on Saturday to show their support if the government does shut down again Friday night. She urged those who were interested to sign up on the website, generalstrike2019.org.

"We believe it is time to talk about a general strike," the site says. "A true general strike would take months of planning. But we cannot allow that to stop us from taking action now. We must do what we can immediately."

Talks between Republicans and Democrats stalled over the weekend, increasing fears negotiators won't be able to strike a deal on funding for border security.

While flight attendants were not directly impacted by the shutdown, flight controller and transportation safety officers were, leading to lengthy delays at some airports.

Nelson noted some of those employees have yet to receive their pay.

"They won't be able to take care of their families. They were already stressed to the nth degree," she said.

"Congress is creating an extremely chaotic situation," Nelson said, and if it doesn't get its act together, "We're going to create order where Congress is creating chaos."

The last shutdown ended on January 25, after airports across the Northeast experienced major delays because air traffic controllers did not show up to work.

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