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Leon Kaye headshot

Flight Attendants Set the Bar High for Employee Activism After the Capitol Breach

By Leon Kaye
Capitol Breach

A week after the U.S. Capitol breach, it’s become clear the riots were much worse than we thought. Meanwhile, workers across many industries have drawn a line in the sand, telling their employers to take action. We saw this at some of America’s largest tech companies, including Microsoft, where employees spoke out against past political donations to the likes of Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and Lindsey Graham.

Pulling the plug on political donations

Some companies are completely shutting off the political donation spigot. BP, for example, said its employee political action committee will hold off on sending checks, period, for at least six months. Critics, however, note this is simply following the “both sides” playbook long flaunted by the outgoing U.S. president and his supporters.

"This is not a time to say, 'Oh, both sides did it.' What the hell did the Democrats do this week except stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law?" said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York during a Monday interview with MSNBC. “Those corporations have been playing footsie with this administration for years; they should get clear — if they want to get some credit for not supporting this kind of activity, then they should get clear on who did it.”

There is no 'both sides' when it comes to the Capitol breach

One group of Americans that isn’t buying the “both sides” argument are flight attendants working for U.S. airlines. That shouldn’t be a surprise — many were subjected to ugly incidents in the days leading up to last week’s violence, as summed up by the harassment Sen. Mitt Romney endured at an airport not long before Congress voted on certifying the Electoral College results.

While most discussions of the Capitol breach have focused on how to punish those involved — whether they be the politicians who incited the riot or the terrorists who carried it out — these airline employees are taking a long-term view in working to ensure such violence never occurs again.

The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which claims to represent over 50,000 flight attendants working within 17 airlines, called for stricter enforcement of flight safety rules after reports emerged of horrific behavior on flights going into the Washington, D.C. area in the days before the Capitol breach.

About time for a no-fly list?

Since then, flight attendants and the union’s leader, Sara Nelson, have called for greater cooperation between the federal government’s law enforcement and national security agencies. The goal would be a no-fly list that includes anyone who was verified as participating in last week’s riots. “At the least, these individuals should be flagged for additional screening that includes a behavioral assessment at the airport by people who are trained to do that, and to determine whether or not they're going to be a risk on the flight,” Nelson told Forbes.

As the federal government moves at a snail’s pace to hold those responsible for the Capitol breach accountable, it’s been left up to citizen groups such as airline employees to find the most logical and forceful recourse, in this case by restricting something these domestic terrorists cherish as a tool to enact violence: their freedom of movement.

The AFA’s bold stance on the Capitol breach puts them in curious company with the likes of Hallmark and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. What do these three have in common? They are speaking out, taking action, and telling the truth with far more force than the GOP leaders who, for the first time ever, are begging for unity after they stood by while a mob tried to kneecap U.S. democracy.

Image credit: Tyler Merbler/Wiki Commons

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye