American Airlines Severs Ties With Uniform Maker After Health Complaints
It's been a long time coming, after numerous complaints from flight attendants, pilots, airline professionals union members—and after introducing new uniforms—American Airlines said it is ready to part ways with uniform manufacturer Twin Hill.
Last week, American Airlines told CNN Money that it will end its relationship with Twin Hill when the contract expires in 2020. However, American still hasn't fully admitted that the uniforms are the problem, claiming that the decision to part ways with Twin Hill was mutual, and that "the uniforms are safe, and that most of the company's 70,000 front-line employees have been pleased with them."
Similarly, Twin Hill said on Wednesday that its third-party tests of the uniforms showed that the fabric contains "no restricted chemicals," and that it has not received any evidence that the uniforms are the direct cause of the problems reported—i.e. hives, headaches, rashes, etc.
In fact, the way the companies responded, it sounds like it was more of Twin Hill's decision than American Airlines. According to CNN, Twin Hill justified the contract termination by saying, "The costs associated with serving American in the future would be unacceptable to our business, given the likelihood of continued unfounded allegations about the safety of our garments."
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which has been a vocal opponent of Twin Hill's uniforms, said it was "pleased" with the decision to cut ties with the uniform manufacturer.
"Management at American is taking a positive step by stating that front-line flight attendants and our union will play a key role as the process for delivering new uniforms goes forward," the company said in a statement to CNN Money.
As of now, American Airlines hasn't selected a successor to Twin Hill, but said whatever company they do pick will create garments based on existing uniforms, "but will feature new fabrics."
If one didn't know better, that would be an admission that the current fabrics are problematic.
This also isn't the first time Twin Hill has been on the receiving end of accusations from airline professionals. In 2011, Alaska Air Group—parent company of Alaska Airlines—ended a deal with Twin Hill after its flight attendants complained of similar problems as American Airlines employees. This dispute, however, ended in court, with Twin Hill on the winning end, saying that its clothing "could not have been the cause of the alleged symptoms."
Twin Hill brought up this case in its defense of American Airlines's uniforms.
"The Alaska uniforms have been repeatedly referred to by American Airlines personnel and union leadership, primarily through social media and targeted press, to suggest a pattern of issues with our products," the company said in a statement, according to CNN Money. "The fact is, however, that scientists at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, an agency of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, determined that they could not relate the symptoms the Alaska flight attendants claimed to experience with the uniforms Twin Hill had produced."
So, for now, the jury is still out. But, come 2020, American Airlines uniforms will be made by another company. That part is for sure.