Thursday, April 28, 2022
Workers Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for workers killed or injured on the job and to renew the fight for strong safety and health protections. More than 50 years ago, on April 28, the Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect. The law was a success because of the tireless efforts of the labor movement, which organized for safer working conditions and demanded action from our government.
A lot of work still needs to be done. Each year, thousands of our fellow Union members are killed, and millions more suffer injury and illness because of dangerous working conditions that can be prevented. Workers Memorial Day is significant for all Flight Attendants and the heroes in our profession that we will never forget.
Remembering American Airlines Flight Attendant José Chiu
Flight 1291, flying from Miami to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, took off at 11:49 a.m. on November 20, 2000. Shortly after that, when the plane had reached 14,000 feet, the Captain noticed a fire warning light. The airplane, which carried 121 passengers and nine crewmembers, returned to Miami at 12:17 p.m. with a normal landing.
The Captain decided to evacuate the aircraft because the fire warning light was still on after the plane had landed. Upon opening the 1L door, José Chiu was ejected from the aircraft onto the tarmac due to the aircraft not being depressurized. José died that day as a hero who was doing his job to save the lives of others.
In 2001, the APFA Board of Directors established a permanent award known as the “The José Chiu Award.” This award recognizes APFA Flight Attendant members whose extraordinary action, service, and/or sacrifice reflects courage, distinction, and honor on themselves, their Union, and the Flight Attendant profession.
APFA and other labor Unions continue to work with the FAA, OSHA, and the airlines to continue pushing for a safe and healthy working environment. Our industry has fundamentally changed, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our profession are not over. On this Workers Memorial Day, we remember and honor those Flight Attendants who lost their lives while protecting the lives and safety of others.