Uniform Company to AA Employees: Attacks ‘Inaccurate’ and ‘Damaging’
The company that makes American Airlines Flight Attendant’s uniform is calling the Association of Professional Flight Attendant’s claim that new uniforms are causing allergic reactions, “inaccurate” and “damaging.” The company provided a detailed response to the claims in a letter to the union that was released on Monday. The company, Twin Hills, claims that the information being put out by employees and unions is not true.
A copy of the letter, which was obtained by USA Today, can be seen below.
The company claims that they have sent 1.6 million uniform accessories to 65,000 AA employees. The letter seems to suggest that the 2,300 or more AA employees that have complained are part of a fraction of employees that would naturally have some sort of reaction to the uniforms.
If you are unfamiliar with the current debate on AA uniforms, we’ve covered this twice now. We first reported on it when the AA Executives said they were going to wear the uniforms to demonstrate they were not hazardous. We reported on the story again when it became apparent that Hector Adler, the executive who oversees the flight attendants, was refusing to be seen in the uniform. Recently, Adler received a promotion as he prepares for his retirement, most likely this year.
Bob Ross, APFA National President
Gabby Harty, APFA National Health Chair
1004 West Euless Blvd. Euless, Texas 76040
Dear Mr. Ross and Ms. Harty:
January 9, 2017
I write in response to the private inquiries and public statements you have made on behalf of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) with regard to the American Airlines uniforms supplied by Twin Hill. Many of your public statements, in particular, have been both inaccurate and damaging to Twin Hill ‘s reputation.
Twin Hill is a company that puts its wearers first: we prioritize safety, comfort, and quality above all. We were deeply concerned when claims made by the APFA started to surface about your members having reactions to the American Airlines uniforms provided by Twin Hill, and we immediately leveraged every resource at our disposal to investigate those claims. We had those garments tested for chemical content by an industry-leading worldwide independent lab, TUV Rheinland, which has confirmed that there are no restricted chemicals in the garments and that the chemicals that are present are well within acceptable standards for the clothing industry. Simply put, the garments are safe.
We don’t expect you to take our word for it – we encourage you to see for yourself, and to eliminate any doubts you still may have about the authenticity and accuracy of the extensive testing that has been done and the safety of our garments. We supported the request of APFA representatives to visit our Houston distribution center and select uniforms directly for joint chemical testing with American Airlines. We scheduled that visit – on three different occasions over the last eight weeks – and each time, the APFA has unilaterally cancelled the visit at the last moment. Considering the nature of your claims about your members’ reactions, we are at a loss to understand what could take priority over this meeting.
We believe, based on the APFA ‘s previous statements, that it is necessary to call the following facts to your attention:
Over five million people worldwide go to work each and every day dressed in uniforms provided by Twin Hill and our corporate apparel division, which currently has over 40 million garments in circulation and produced over 19.5 million garments in 2016 alone.
The process of making clothing involves the use of fabrics, dyes, and chemicals. That truth is not unique to Twin Hill or to the uniform industry. Accordingly, independent labs located throughout the world offer chemical testing to ensure that the chemicals present in the clothing we wear are within safe levels. Separate and apart from the testing done by Twin Hill, American Airlines had a different industry-leading global laboratory, lntertek, conduct multiple rounds of testing on the uniforms, all of which returned results concluding the collection is safe.
The AA uniforms were manufactured exclusively by facilities compliant with the OEKO TEX® Standard 100, an indepedent testing and certification system designed specifically to certify the absence of potentially harmful substances and deliver assurance of high product safety. This standard in fact often demands more of the manufacturer than applicable national and international legal and regulatory standards (Your October 28 letter to members notes that even the APFA’s test results indicate that the chemicals you claim to be present in these garments are within OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 limits.)
We have shipped 1.4 million garments and accessories to more than 65,000 AA employees worldwide during the rollout, and we are continuing to fulfill orders. Within every population – aviation or otherwise – it is to be expected that there will be individuals with sensitivity or even allergy to certain fabrics and materials. With that fact in mind, American Airlines has already made our non-wool line available to individuals experiencing any sensitivity to the uniforms, and we are now working on designing entirely new 100% cotton garments as a third alternative. We are committed to ensuring that every single AA employee has a uniform that is both safe and comfortable.
Finally, the Alaska Airlines case you reference involved claimed reactions by 164 Alaska flight attendants over four years ago. That matter has already been decided: the Court found that our uniforms were not capable of causing any of the alleged symptoms. Indeed, the Court entered a judgment against the nine flight attendants who did not voluntarily dismiss their claims – in the amount of more than $212,000 – to cover the cost of trial expenses Twin Hill was forced to incur. We would be happy to provide a copy of the Court’s opinion for your review, to the extent it may be helpful in the representation of your members.
Given the health reactions you assert your members are facing, we anticipate that you will not delay scheduling your visit to our distribution center any longer. Please contact your American Airlines liaison, who will work with me to schedule that meeting. We remain as committed as ever to providing your members – and all of our customers – with the highest quality workwear in the industry.
Senior Vice President & Managing Director