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American Airlines Union Says New Uniforms Cause Hives, Headaches

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Ted Goodman Reporter

A union representing American flight attendants said that new uniforms are causing over 500 members to complain about hives, headaches and other abnormalities.

American Airlines debuted new uniforms Sept. 20 in an effort to further integrate its employees following the 2013 American-US Airways merger. Pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and club employees have all been outfitted with the new uniforms, in what American Airlines describes as a fresh, modern look.

The company is also unveiling a new paint scheme, and even redesigned its website following the merger, but uniforms have not been updated since the ’80s. The company is close to fully integrating the two former brands, into one, recognizable brand for its customers.

American Airlines called the switch to new uniforms “monumental,” asserting that the outfits show the company as one distinct brand. “It really shows us as one brand, and that was really the only thing lagging behind for customers,” American’s director of Global Marketing, Brady Byrnes, told USA Today.

The uniforms were produced by the same company that created new uniforms for Alaska Airlines in 2011, which were also connected to health concerns, according to the Austin Business Journal.

Following the roll-out of its new uniforms, Alaska Airlines employees started reporting health issues and as many as 400 employees complained to the airline. The workers described rashes, hives, redness and itchiness. Some employees complained of thyroid issues, hair loss and eye irritation. Some of the complaints were more serious, like shortness of breath and congestion.

The uniforms were manufactured by Twin Hill which is under the Men’s Wearhouse brand. The uniforms were found to contain Disperse Orange 37/76, which is a dye that is banned from use in apparel products, according to reports.

An executive with American Airlines responded to concerns about the new uniforms, claiming that the airline has only received about one-dozen complaints from about 80,000 employees.

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