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wjcandee
Posts: 9068
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2000 12:50 am

Re: AFA trying to unionize FAs at Delta

Sun Dec 22, 2019 8:30 am

millionsofmiles wrote:
It wasn’t the L1011. It was the A300.

The “red sweat” was reported in the press in early 1980, and ended up being linked to the new demo life vests carried on the then-relatively new A300s in Eastern’s fleet.


I stand corrected on which jet it was. The foibles of memory!!
 
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DL747400
Posts: 967
Joined: Mon Sep 01, 2008 4:04 pm

Re: AFA trying to unionize FAs at Delta

Sun Dec 22, 2019 4:26 pm

wjcandee wrote:
Reminds me of the great crisis when Eastern flight attendants were getting red rashes in the head and neck area "from the (new) L1011". The union was insisting that the aircraft be grounded, and correctly stated that the only complaints of "illness" (red rash, and asserted fever, chills, other systemic symptoms) were from flight attendants that worked the L1011. Pilots and passengers initially made no complaints, but as the hysteria spread, rumours abounded that pax and pilots actually were being affected, too, but that it was being "covered up". "Toxins" wasn't a popular word to use back then, but similar generic assertions were being made by people. Management denied there was anything wrong with this new aircraft, which only made the histrionics over the thing get worse.

People who were looking at the whole thing scientifically were indeed flummoxed. Why weren't the pilots and passengers on the same flight being affected? Why did it only seem to be happening at Eastern? What was it about the flight attendants' actual service/duty flow that put them in a situation from which this resulted? And why only on this model of aircraft?

So one of the investigators finally took a few L1011 flights. And, eventually, he saw a potential source of the L1011 "illness", and confirmed that this was indeed the problem. But not before a fair amount of "the L1011 is unsafe" stories made it into at least the NY media. As a kid, I remember hearing about it on the news radio station, which was significant to me because that's the aircraft that my uncle was (very proudly) flying for Eastern. He thought it was amazing, truly a pilot's aircraft, and so advanced for its time.

Most of you probably know this, but the L1011 at Eastern often did overwater flights, say to SJU. When it did, the FAs demonstrated the use of life vests. Part of that demonstration was to put it around their necks. Was there something on the life vests that could cause the rash? Upon initial inspection, no. But then, upon inspection of the particular life vests that the flight attendants actually used when doing the demonstrations, the answer was found: the airline (or its supplier) had helpfully stenciled "DEMO ONLY" in red on the vests that the flight attendants used for that purpose. That red material, whatever it was, was flaking off the vests from abrasion, and lodging on the necks of some FAs, looking for all the world like a rash.

The rest of the symptoms were psychosomatic. And there was much rabble-rousing of disbelief about this, to the point that the airline and Lockheed were again accused of a cover-up. However, the problem essentially went away when the Demo vests were replaced.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose: These Delta uniforms are made by a well-known designer and a reputable manufacturer. Is it possible that some of them (or all of them) have properties that are problematic? Sure. It's possible. Or...


Thank you very much for this post! I was a child then and I remember hearing about it at the time, but never learned the full story.
From First to Worst: The history of Airliners.net.

All posts reflect my opinions, not those of my employer or any other company.
 
wjcandee
Posts: 9068
Joined: Mon Jun 05, 2000 12:50 am

Re: AFA trying to unionize FAs at Delta

Sun Dec 22, 2019 4:56 pm

DL747400 wrote:
Thank you very much for this post! I was a child then and I remember hearing about it at the time, but never learned the full story.


My pleasure! I'm a little embarrassed that I got the model of plane wrong, as I did this all from memory, and I was a kid then.

So I looked it up and got this nice concise summary from the web site of the Smithsonian's David J. Senser Museum of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) about their epidemiological investigation at the time -- this had become a really big deal for the freakin' CDC to get involved! And when the CDC solved it, it became a memorable enough event that they kept some artifacts from the investigation to display in the CDC Museum! (Photo at the link.)

Apparently the CDC spent the first 3 months of 1980 on the investigation. Some of the details are interesting (fair use from the web site):

"Airline personnel had investigated the ventilation systems, cleaning materials and procedures, concluding all were normal. Chemical tests on clinical specimens for the presence of blood were negative.

Bacteriological tests were negative. Review of 132 cases occurring in January and February:

96% occurred on flights between New York and Miami.
90% occurred on a single type of aircraft.
91 flight attendants had been affected."

It's interesting that 90 percent of the reported cases occurred on the A300, when the cause (i.e. 100 percent) was found to be things only on that aircraft. Delusions/rumours at the MIA crew base? People wanting to join in with "it happened to me, too!"?

My memory was pretty-good on the cause and the psychosomatic symptoms. The CDC says: "Observations of standard work practices and procedures of flight attendants revealed that the red spots were caused by red ink flaking off the life vests. The vests used for demonstrations were not actually functional and were labelled “Demo Only” with ink containing a litholrubine chrome molybdate orange pigment. When the vests were demonstrated, the red ink areas came into close contact with the face, necks, and hands of the demonstrators. Although some reports mentioned burning, nausea, and headache in association with spots, most reports involved only the occurrence of bright red spots that could be wiped or washed off. When the implicated vests were removed from all Eastern Airlines planes, the epidemic ended."

https://www.cdc.gov/museum/history/redspots.html
 
cessna2
Posts: 396
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2006 6:16 am

Re: AFA trying to unionize FAs at Delta

Sun Dec 22, 2019 11:08 pm

Detroit313 wrote:
Now that they are scared of AFA and made it easier for flight attendants to get the alternative, expect to see more black and white. Now anyone can get it. Before the union drive it was much harder. You had to have doctor's order and go through specific testing requested specifically by Delta to prove you have an issue. It was a nightmare for some. They couldn't even go to work and some got threatened even with termination.

It seems like they are going to replace the entire uniform by 2021.

What I don't understand is, couldn't they find a purple alternative for now? Giving them black and white makes the crews look like a hot mess.

No plans to replace the current uniform. They are making a women's grey option to hopefully "cure" what ever issue the purple is causing. What they don't realize is the Men's uniform is effecting them just as much. I do think the purple should be scrapped and a real classic one made going forward. DL has one of the worst uniforms in the industry in my opinion.
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