Shameful: Flight Attendants Union Head Politicizing Coronavirus

Sara Nelson is President of the AFA-CWA, flight attendants union with 50,000 members and part of the national Communications Workers of America. She’s an activist in the left wing of the Democratic Party, a Bernie Sanders supporter, and has been called ‘the most powerful flight attendant in America’ as a rising star in the labor movement.

As I pointed out on twitter at the time these aren’t selfies but they were paid for, by her members, through the Communications Workers of America.

It’s no surprise that Nelson has come out attacking the President on MSNBC over coronavirus.

Regular readers know that I’m no defender of the President or this administration, but Nelson really misses the mark.

To be sure the CDC performed poorly in the early days of the virus and the President’s public statements have seemed to understate the risk posed by COVID-19.

Nelson complains that the Obama administration made her feel important in 2014 during the scare over Ebola, and the Trump administration isn’t consulting her.

Nelson recalled to host Lawrence O’Donnell how, under Obama’s “Ebola czar” Ronald Klain, she and other industry leaders were repeatedly brought together to discuss action both on the front lines and in the U.S.

But, with the Trump White House amid the coronavirus outbreak, she said, “we can’t even talk here about what we can do in a coordinated way, with good information in this country, to be able to contain this.”

She says that the airlines are among the safest places right now, “going to the airport and getting on planes may be one of your safest public locations,” though in fact stepped up cleaning varies significantly by airline and people are in close proximity to each other except when load factors drop because people aren’t flying.

No doubt flying entails less exposure to other peoples’ germs than taking the New York subway. However most public transit riders are local while flying carries people from one region (with greater infection risk) to another (which may have less). I haven’t cancelled any trips yet, but will make calls on each based on best available information at the time.

Regardless of the helpfulness of statements by the President, responsibility for the response to coronavirus really doesn’t fall at his feet. Contrary to popular belief the Trump administration has not cut the budget of the CDC. Sadly party affiliation is a strong predictor of how serious someone believes coronavirus could get.

At this point containment still matters to slow the spread because our health care system isn’t ready to treat the number of patients who could need hospitalization in medium-risk scenarios. There aren’t enough masks. There aren’t enough ventilators. There aren’t enough beds. The last thing we need to do is politicize this. There will be plenty of time for recriminations later.

To be sure coronavirus fears may already be pushing the U.S. into recession, which may advantage the democratic challenger in November. Anyone who pushes political narratives around the virus at this point, though, is doing a disservice to the country. And Nelson is doing a disservice to her members.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “The last thing we need to do is politicize this. ” You mean like Trump did when he made false accusations about regulations passed during the Obama administration? Seriously both parties need to shut the hell up and listen to the scientists. Also, we could do without travel bloggers interjecting political commentary. By the way there are reports that the CDC wanted to advise elderly people to avoid flying and that the Trump administration blocked them from making that statement. Its hard to trust the CDC when everything is being filtered through the Trump white house. Also, it is true the CDC budget was not cut however the fact remains that Trump has repeatedly tried to cut the CDC budget, but got push back from Congress over those cuts so maybe that is relevant to mention?? Maybe also relevant is all the misinformation and outright lies coming out from the administration? Time is of the essence and we have ineffective leadership and yet you chose to complain about some flight attendant? Give me a break.

  2. Oh, dear, yet again Gary is the boy who cried “politicization” who then goes on to criticize the folks who criticize the Politicizer In Chief. The only thing surprising about the comments to this post is the large number of people who express shock that Gary has gone off the rails. He frequently does this, by making decisive statements in both his headlines and his body copy. A better headline for this piece would be “Flight Attendants Head Criticizes Trump’s Response to Coronavirus.” If you begin the headline with the word “shameful,” you can’t really expect people to take you seriously.

    And if you’re going to label her an “activist in the left wing of the Democratic party,” you should really provide some evidence for the claim. What is it you didn’t like? Her lobbying to get the 737 MAX grounded? Her help in ending the government shutdown? Her decidedly “left wing” support for banning knives on airplanes or eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace?

    As for the validity and credibility of the statements you’ve made here… I won’t go into it, as others have already called you on that crap. And accurately so.

    As for those who have defended Trump’s Coronavirus strategy (tee hee) and his communication on the matter, I’ve read a lot of debunked claims in the comments here and a lot about immigration and a bunch of other things that don’t have to do with this crisis… and a lot about how moronic those who oppose Trump’s (in)actions are and a lot about why Trump will sail to victory on the ignorance of the “Dems”… but none of the Trumpsters have provided any actual factual evidence that any of Sara Nelson’s statements are wrong.

    Gary, you have a valuable blog and were among the first to do whatever the hell it is that you do. But, as others have pointed out, there is nothing in this blog that can’t be consumed elsewhere without the political agenda.

    And there is nothing more bothersome than a guy who says he has no political agenda and then oozes that agenda from every pore. You’re like somebody who is afraid to come out of the closet. Choose a side and let your readers decide. Let your conservative freak flag fly. But don’t pretend that you don’t politicize and then go and politicize in many of the things you write. Ferchrissakes, it’s not only disingenuous, it’s downright “shameful.”

  3. Love how Trumpettes like @otherjustsaying see hate in anything said against Donald, but don’t see the hate that Donald spreads.
    What’s that term the right wing likes to use? Ah. Snowflakes.
    Describes otherjustsayings meltdowns so well

  4. it is perfectly legitimate for the president of a union to criticize the government’s response to Coronavirus. In fact, that’s kind of her job, to advocate for the members of her union, in this case by trying to do everything possible so they don’t get sick.
    A union is always a political body, and there is only one party in this country that is friendly to unions — so, no surprise where the sympathies of the president of this union lie. That doesn’t change the truth in what she said, however — in other countries, wide-spread testing is being done (for example Italy) to anyone who might have the virus. In the US, they are trying to test as little as possible (denying in some cases even nurses the tests) in order to create the appearance that there aren’t that many cases.
    Whether this is really as disastrous a disease still remains to be seen, but we better hope not — because this country has certainly taken all the wrong steps, if that should turn out to be the case.

  5. Just to add to my previous comment: so far the only forceful responses have been by state governments.
    It is indeed wrong to somehow try to spin it in regard to the election in November — but nevertheless ok to criticize the president. We are all trying to stay healthy together, and his comments were ill-advised.

  6. She’s pathetic. Leave your job and go work for the DNC or the Socialist Party of Amerika. And good luck with your campaign for Delta, which you’ve essentially made it about you.

  7. 747always a wimpy anti-American creep. Sorry, no insult intended. I am just reporting the facts. Remember Democracy Dies In Darkness, so I cannot lie about these things.

  8. @Joey. We all know that if Obama did exactly what Trump has been doing, the biased left leaning mainstream media (which run 95% anti-Trump stories) and the unhinged anti-Trump commentators above (who are being stirred up by the biased left leaning media), would be singing Obama’s praises.

  9. @otherjustaying We know youre a wimpy un American creep. Great to see you acknowledge it.
    I will ask you again, as your snowflake self has still not answered how it is American to support the rape of the Constitution as being done by Trump and cheered on by nancy boys like yourself

  10. Gary- REALLY! You think that Trump is handling this crisis in a good way? As of this morning , while the whole world is on the verge of a meltdown, Trump still claims it’s over blown and tries to deflect blame by saying that it is all hysteria to get him out of office. Please read about the great Spanish flu (which also started in China but Spain got the blame) of the early 20th century. Exact same response from Wilson and other leaders. Result is a pandemic that killed millions of people across the word including 675K in the USA.

    If our leader is ignoring this, thank God that others are getting involved.

  11. So 747always the WIMP, what do you love about the United States? Name 10 things? Ha. you
    cannot because you are an anti-American creep. QED.

  12. 747always the WIMP says “rape of the Constitution as being done by Trump” is a lie and you know it. Trump has used powers that every President before him, including Obama used. The left wing activists find a friendly judge to make an injunction against him. He obeys the injunction. It works it way through the court. You know your idiot comments about are lies, yet you persist. 747always is a lying anti-American Wimpy creep.

    Under my breath, crazy unhinged too.

  13. @otherjustsaying the Anti American Rapist has still not answered why raping the constitution is a pro American stance.
    All the ickle beta cuck @otherjustsaying can do is insult others. Guess he grabs ladies by the p)(*&y like Mr Bone Spurs. But as he isnt the President, he is actually scared of going to jail.
    Grow a pair little @otherjustsaying.

  14. @747always the anti-American Creep. Anti-Americans creeps like 747always surround themselves in the Constitution selectively, when in fact they hate the Constitution. Sickening.

  15. Aww, ickle crybaby rapist @otherjustsaying us using a classic Trumpist talk line. The little weenie gets hurt when people apart from Repugnants ask for their rights under the Constitution.
    And he will still cheer when Trump overcharges the Secret Service to stay at his properties. After all, like a good fascist, @otherjustsaying wants his demigod to be enriched at the taxpayers expense.

  16. @747always the Wimp. Make America Great Again against against anti-american commie pigs like 747 the Wimp.

  17. @747always the Wimp. Almost serious. You cited an organization of leftest lawyers. Just like citing CNN Fake News. The average person has enough IQ to realize CNN is biased. Left leaning loons like you cannot even see the bias. Must have been deficient in the brain category and making up for it by being arrogant.

    Second. You are citing so called “Logan” violations. That is per se idiotic as no one has ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act. Not even Kerry who negotiated with the Vietnamese in Paris behind Nixon’s back, the Sandinistas behind Reagans back, Assad behind Bush 2 back, and now the Iranians behind Trumps back, has been prosecuted under the Logan act. Seriously low IQ arguing the logan act.

    However, I am sure as an anti-American loon, you would have been for Castro, Stalin, Ortega, and Chavez too. Most liberal loons like you were also for Fascism before the Second World War.

    Liberal Wimpy Loons like 747always call Trump names, but have historically slobbered over every tyrannical leader on the planet.

  18. She need to step down , she is a very a great speaker , smart and knowledgeable. She has done nothing for the 50000 plus members in this union at $50.00 a month .A bigger union does not guarantee job security , representation and a voice . All of which I believe I lost as a IAM member as a continental Flight attendant since 1986 . Former frontier airlines thrown under the bus with the buyout or so called merger . I was AfA at frontier in 1986… they did nothing to protect us . It’s a business . I don’t feel I have any say in my job , rules or policies … very sad … thank you and no disrespect to my co workers . We’re all a family just wanted you to hear my side of my career story.

  19. Interesting testimony, Matthew, and thank you for your bold, gut level honesty. Yes, I agree. Unions do have their place, but too often – like you mentioned with AFA – these organizations devolve into mere rackets feeding corporate oligarchs at the expense of its members. Right now, with measures Congress has taken with COVID-19, we will probably see the emergence of Public-Private Partnerships, which is a form of corporate facism. So how does the average American fight this??? Consider going to town hall meetings in your community and look for anything (like construction of a new bridge, toll roads, hospital, sewer plant, etc.), that is proposed under the banner of a “Public-Private Partnership”, or (P3). Speak out an educate. You can learn more about this alarming trend by googling a study – easy reading, on a layman level – compiled by NYS Controller, Thomas DiNapoli, called “Assessing Public-Private Partnerships”

  20. Gary – please please quit your senseless ramble. I know you are on the take from airline companies and get all those free upgrades into first class and airline lounges. Give us travelers a break. The union folks are in the frontline of what is going on the operations side of airlines and the watchdogs for us passengers. Take a deep breath and don’t exhale the virus.

  21. Well this article certainly has strong political leanings….The undeniable fact is the Country is very divided right now when we need to be working together. This is Trumps shortcoming and the reasons are obvious. How can anyone comfortably rally around a very petty president that calls people names like a third grader, clearly prioritizes self interest and lies….a lot.
    He’s definitely making America “Grate”!

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