Press Release: New York Area Airline Workers Face Severe Economic Hardship

More than half the New York area airline workers laid off in the wake of last year's terrorist attack remain unemployed and face far greater difficulty finding new jobs than non-airline related employees, according to a survey released on October 22, 2002, by the City University of New York Graduate Center in conjunction with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

Senator Tom Daschle attended and spoke at the press conference held at The Graduate Center announcing the findings of the study.The report, titled "New York Airline Workers in the Aftermath of 9/11" also finds displaced airline workers failed to benefit from the billions of dollars in federal aid provided to airlines and will soon face even greater economic hardship as their unemployment benefits expire.

The employment survey is based on a survey sent to 1,800 airline workers in the New York Metropolitan region, who lost their jobs after 9/11. The study also draws on in-depth interviews and documents the social and psychological trauma experienced by workers who lost health insurance and homes in the aftermath.

"Forty-four percent of respondents indicated they had either moved involuntarily since the attack or feared they would soon be forced to do so," said Graduate Center professor William Kornblum, lead author of the study. "Significant changes in displaced workers' health included a 27 percent increase in high blood pressure, 47 percent increase in stomach and digestive problems and a 68 percent increase in sleep problems and insomnia."

"Respondents repeatedly noted that their struggles and their bouts of depression are worsened by the neglect and indifference they have experienced on the part of their former employers," noted the report. "These displaced workers feel increasingly isolated, abandoned and angry."

"The crisis for New York's airline workers and their families is about to get worse," said Steve Sleigh, director of IAM Strategic Resources and one of the survey's authors. "The economic impact of the attack fell disproportionately on front line airline employees. In contrast, the assistance provided in the wake of the attacks has gone disproportionately to airline executives."

Among labor groups working to provide training, counseling and job placement for New York's airline workers are the IAM's Center for Administering Rehabilitation and Employment Services (IAM CARES) and the Consortium for Worker Education (CWE). "We've had some success but the scope of the problem and the number of people needing help is daunting," said Tony Chapman, president of the non-profit IAM CARES. "We're simply being overwhelmed."

"Airline workers were among the first victims of the terrorist attacks," said IAM Vice President Robert Roach, Jr. "Before the smoke cleared in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, more than 100,000 airline workers across the U.S. became economic casualties. We believe this industry can be rebuilt, but it will take a large-scale commitment in financial assistance, retraining and compassion for those employees in need."

Submitted on: NOV 1, 2002

Category: Economics | Press Room