I’m thrilled and grateful to have the book I’m writing about Dusty Roads mentioned by Sonia Pressman Fuentes during her Zoom speech to the UK’s Oxford and Cambridge University Writer’s Group this morning. Sonia, a feminist leader in the United States and a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW), was the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission’s first female attorney hired in October, 1965. She wrote the legal decision that airline age and marriage rules violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Dusty was the first to file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC on July 2, 1965, on behalf of her friend, now wife, Jean Montague. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Sonia, whose autobiography, “Eat First—You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You” is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of women’s rights. Her personal story about her and her family’s escape from the Holocaust in Germany is also a poignant part of her book, available on Amazon.
On July 3, 2020, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants joined in solidarity with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO and the Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO in an unprecedented declaration and warning to Aviation leaders that they are “committed to ensuring that Flight Attendants do not bear the brunt of the crisis. Our wages, healthcare benefits, work rules and job protections are not the problem in this industry. The problem is one of demand which will only be resolved when the flying public feels safe to travel. Concessions cannot and will not resolve the crisis in the industry. We are putting management on notice: don’t even think about it.”
The letter later states, “As union leaders, we commit to do all in our power to avoid or mitigate furloughs. The airline industry needs an extension of the CARES Act to keep us in our jobs, getting our paychecks, and connected to our healthcare. We made sure the Payroll Support Program can only go to our pay and benefits while requiring no involuntary furloughs, stock buybacks, dividends, as well as capped executive compensation. The problem is demand, not labor costs and this federal program run with public money, our money, keeps us in our jobs and ready to return our industry to full strength. We urge our airlines to come out in support of legislation as that is the most direct way to avoid furloughs and keep us strong.”
And, “We also call on carriers to dramatically improve the early outs and voluntary leaves to allow those who need time off or a transition to retirement after years of service. And an extension of the Payroll Support Program ensures we all get paychecks for an additional six months, a vital bridge to regain confidence in air travel and much closer to a vaccine.
We must not let management set up a false choice of pitting our careers against our contracts. Staffing at the airlines is a function of flight schedules, and passenger demand. Cutting sages and work rules will not bring our jobs back. It simply means those remaining at work will work for less. And those returning from furlough would come back to lessened career expectations and diminished jobs. Se know from experience it can take years or decades to recover from concessions, impacting Flight Attendants of all seniority levels long after the crisis has passed and profitability is restored.
“On behalf of tens of thousands of Flight Attendants across the industry, we stand united in our opposition to concessions. Flight Attendants must not be allowed to bear the burden of the aviation crisis. When the industry recovers, and it will, we are committed to retaining our contracts intact and building even more improvements for our Flight Attendant profession.”
To view the entire letter, click on the following link to it: https://mailchi.mp/apfa.org/flight-attendant-unions-unite-against-concessions
Barbara “Dusty” Roads and I want you all to know that we stand in solidarity with you too! This is a good example of why unions are necessary.
I’m delighted to announce that my short story “You Don’t Need Fingers to Live” was accepted for publication in the 2019 Redwood Writers Anthology. The title of the book will be Endurance: Stories of Struggle and Perseverance. It was my sincere pleasure to write the story of Paul Langlois who was a helicopter pilot in the Coast Guard, a Distinguished Flying Cross Award recipient and then Reach helicopter pilot in Sonoma County. He was also a master cyclist. He had to quit flying when he contracted a rare disease, Amyloidosis, that most people don’t survive for longer than six months. He had to have a heart transplant, and years of chemo and other treatments to keep the disease from killing him. He got a bacterial infection that spread to sepsis and both hands and feet had to be amputated. Nonetheless, true to his unflagging positive spirit, he now has prostheses, goes to physical therapy, is driving a car with special controls and is building his own bicycle to be able to ride again. It is a story of enduring physical and spiritual strength and a passion to live. I met him and his wife through a friend and am proud to have written his story.
Time to catch up with you on my activities!
In November, Dusty was invited to speak and be interviewed by Gloria Steinem at the February 2019 MAKERS CONFERENCE in Dana Point, California. Dusty, Jean and I were looking forward to the trip and to seeing Gloria again.
Unfortunately, on Christmas day, Dusty had a mild stroke and needed immediate speech and physical therapy as she had some reading, memory and walking problems. I was able to get home health care for her and her nurse, physical therapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists from the St. Joseph Home Health Care organization in Sonoma were like angels working miracles. Jean, the therapists and I worked together the entire month of January to improve Dusty’s memory and stamina so she would feel confident enough to be interviewed at the Makers Conference. I wrote many iterations of potential interview questions that we tested on her daily. By February, her doctors said as long as she remained at sea level, she could go to the conference. So, Jean drove Dusty in their RV and I followed them in my car along the coast to Southern California. The weather was uncooperative—gale-like winds and torrential rains plagued us while we were en route. While we stayed in Pismo Beach, Dusty caught a cold.
Although she wasn’t feeling great, Dusty nonetheless made it to Dana Point, had a successful dress rehearsal for the interview and looked forward to the next day. But overnight, she developed breathing problems. She could not get out of bed and in the morning I asked Makers to send the paramedics. It’s a good thing I did as she was diagnosed with pneumonia that was heading toward congestive heart failure. In the meantime, Gloria Steinem, instead of interviewing Dusty, gave a tribute to her while Dusty was on the way to the hospital. I made it to the conference room and saw the last of Gloria’s speech. I met with her and our Makers contacts backstage afterward. I was able to discuss my book with Gloria and she and her administrative assistant said they’d help me. Then, a few days later, on our way home, Jean and I became seriously ill, too, and were sick for well over a month with a vicious pulmonary bacterial virus. We have all finally recovered but it sure took a long time!
Click here to see Makers and Gloria’s tribute videos to Dusty and her sisterhood of stewardesses on my “Books In Progress” page.