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McCaskill lauds recall of 545 furloughed TWA flight attendants

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 6, 2010 - U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is the first area member of Congress to praise American Airlines for its announcement that 545 furloughed TWA flight attendants are being re-hired.

The senator noted that she "helped negotiate a deal between American Airlines and the former TWA flight attendants to extend their recall rights."

"Over the years, I've met so many former TWA flight attendants who loved their jobs and wanted nothing more than to return to work," McCaskill said in a statement sent out Wednesday. "This is a great day for those people, and I couldn't be happier for them."

As her office explains:

"When TWA merged with American Airlines, TWA flight attendants were placed at the bottom of the seniority list. In 2001, American Airlines laid off 2,500 flight attendants, including many former TWA flight employees. The furloughed flight attendants were guaranteed the right to reclaim their jobs if American Airlines made new hires for five years. As their recall rights were set to expire on Jan. 1, 2008, McCaskill stepped in to help broker a deal between the employees and the airline to extend their rights. Because of this, TWA flight attendants remained on the recall list today when American Airlines announced that they would rehire 545 flight attendants."

McCaskill staff added that American Airlines will recall the attendants in waves; the first recall group of 225 flight attendants is expected to receive notices later this month.

Perhaps mindful that she'll face voters in 2012, McCaskill's announcement included praise from a former flight attendant and the president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

"This would not have been possible without Sen. McCaskill's help. Without her involvement these flight attendants would have fallen off the recall list and been gone long ago," said Roger Graham, a former TWA flight attendant from Cape Girardeau.

"Without Sen. McCaskill's involvement, many of these employees would have lost the right to return to their jobs at American Airlines; instead 545 flight attendants will soon be back at work. For those who will remain on furlough, the extension continues to offer them the hope that they, too, will be able to resume their careers at American. The APFA will continue to work with American until each and every one of the remaining furloughed flight attendants are back to work," said Laura Glading, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.