Over the past several days American Airlines has come under both criticism and applause for allowing crewmembers to wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ pins and even beginning the process of making a standard pin for employees to choose to wear.
On Wednesday American gave instructions to all of its phone representatives on how to handle complaints related to the airline’s allowing crewmembers to wear Black Lives Matter pins on their uniforms. Here are the talking points call center employees are supposed to use:
- American Airlines believes in equity and inclusion for all.
- Some of our team members saw the Black Lives Matter pin being worn at other airlines and companies and asked if they could do the same.
- We will allow team members who wish to wear a Black Lives Matter pin to do so if they choose.
- Fundamentally, we believe Black Lives Matter is an expression of equality, not a political statement.
- It doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter, rather that in our society Black lives should matter and be valued the same as others.
- We are showing our support for our Black colleagues and customers who have experienced discrimination and injustice, not any paricular organization.
- Our Christian, Veteran and LGBTQ groups, for example, have developed their own pin that can be worn as part of the uniform.
- In the interim, until this pin is produced, we are allowing team members to wear a Black Lives Matter pin.
And then American drops the mic, “If a customer requests to cancel their ticket, notify the customer that a refund will not be provided.”
Of course equality is a political statement, though hopefully one that many people can agree with. American wants to suggest that they aren’t out on a limb here, employees are requesting it because other airlines are doing it too.
Still those are actually good and reasonable talking points I think. They aren’t endorsing any agenda other than equality so let’s not confuse this talking about what some people associated with the BLM movement want that you (and I!) might object to.
While the controversy seems to have initially been stirred by some American Airlines flight attendants who object to the message, especially those who consider it to be oppositional to police, I think the potential grounds for reasonable objection among employees could be that this special uniform exemption excludes other employee messages – contra American’s claim about all the pins that can be worn, a flight attendant cannot for instance wear a PETA pin or a Freemason pin.
However the company is choosing to make an exemption based on its own prioritization of the message. That’s absolutely political, and it’s consistent with corporate marketing, and that’s within their reasonable discretion I think.
If you write to American about this issue, here’s the message you can expect to get back,
[…] American Airlines President Robert Isom spoke to a group of pilots last week. In his prepared remarks he laid out the carrier’s position on Black Lives Matter, as a way of framing controversy over the airline letting crewmembers wear Black Lives Matter pins. […]