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New uniforms irritating skin of American Airlines flight attendants

By Eric DuVall  

American Airlines tail wings are seen through a cloud of deicing chemical as jets prepares to take off in snow from Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, December 10, 2013. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the Eastern Seaboard, including Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE. Snow accumulations of 3 to 6 inches are expected. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
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The union representing 25,000 flight attendants at American Airlines filed a grievance over new uniforms, saying members are suffering rashes and other ailments as a result of wearing them.
The airline in September rolled out new uniforms for 70,000 employees, including on-board staff. They consist of a blended wool, polyester and spandex blazer and a cotton shirt. An all-cotton version for employees sensitive to wool is also offered.
The uniforms were manufactured by Twin Hill, a division of the Men's Warehouse clothing company.
Since then, 2,200 flight attendants have reported suffering rashes, blisters and eye irritation among other ailments as a result of wearing the uniforms, according to a grievance filed by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents American Airlines workers.
Officials with the airline told NBC News they have conducted three tests on sample uniforms and the packaging in which they were shipped and have not been able to identify the source of the problem. Thus far, the testing has cost the company $1.2 million, with union officials calling on management to set aside another $2 million to identify the source of the problem and compensate members who have suffered adverse effects after wearing them.
A fourth round of testing is presently in the works.
The union has encouraged members who are suffering from wearing the outfits to seal the clothing in plastic bags and photograph the uniforms and the clothing tags for proof the problem needs to be addressed.
An American Airlines spokeswoman told the Chicago Business Journal the company is doing everything possible to remedy the situation.
"We strongly disagree with APFA's characterization that the company is not taking this issue seriously. Our primary objective throughout the whole process has been to ensure that the uniform is safe for our team. We continue to work with APFA to jointly conduct a fourth round of testing."

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