After months of controversy around health concerns, American Airlines executives are testing the company’s new flight attendant uniforms.
Since the uniforms debuted in September, employees filed more than 2,000 complaints that the new clothes caused problems like hives, wheezing, coughing, and headaches.
In a public effort to stand behind the uniforms, half a dozen executives and middle managers have begun wearing the wool outfits to work.
“It’s insulting. Instead of acknowledging legitimate concerns of their employees, American Airlines management is pulling a publicity stunt,” Taylor Garland, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, told the Chicago Tribune.
The union issued a formal complaint last week, asking the airline to either allow employees to wear their old uniforms or completely stop issuing them. They also asked that affected employees be compensated for medical bills and allowed time off to recover.
American Airlines has already conducted three labs tests on the uniforms—two before introducing them in September and another one since—all of which deemed the fabrics “garment-safe.” The airline has agreed to conduct a fourth test as soon as union leaders pick a date.
Since September, the airline has issued the new uniforms to over 70,000 employees. As complaints have poured in, American Airlines has also ordered non-wool versions of the uniform.
Twin Hill, the company who manufactured the uniforms, also created uniforms for Alaska Airlines in 2012 that caused similar health complaints.