Delta to launch new uniform program after worker complaints

Business
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Delta Air Lines plans to launch a new uniform program for its flight attendants and some airport customer service agents amid complaints that the required uniforms have caused serious medical problems.

Hundreds of Delta employees have sued Wisconsin-based clothing manufacturer Lands’ End, claiming the current uniforms are causing skin rashes, breathing difficulties and other medical problems. Lands’ End is based in Dodgeville, a small town about 120 miles west of Milwaukee.

The Atlanta-based airline said Wednesday that it “plans on using this opportunity to identify more sustainable textile practices, taking greater control of the production process and offering employee a greater choice of standards.” The airline said the new uniforms will carry the OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 label, the highest standard in the textile industry for chemical testing.

The lawsuits claim that the chemicals and finishes used to create high-stretch, wrinkle- and stain-resistant, waterproof, anti-static and deodorizing garments for the uniforms led to employees’ health problems.

“We value our partnership with Delta and are pleased to continue to work with them to supply safe, innovative uniforms that meet their program needs,” Lands’ End said in a statement Thursday. The company said each uniform it supplies “undergoes rigorous testing at independent labs to ensure that the garments meet or exceed the strictest global standards.”

The current uniforms, created by fashion designer Zac Posen, were unveiled in May 2018, Delta plans to launch the new uniforms in late 2021 and said in the interim, employees will be offered new uniform choices in addition to alternate options already permitted.

Delta said it plans to provide updates to its existing uniform in the interim.

“At Delta, our people are the foundation for our success. In response to our employees, we’ve taken steps over the past few months to address feedback received about the uniform, including offering alternative garments, hiring fabric experts, and conducting comprehensive chemical testing,” Ekrem Dimbiloglu, director of Delta’s New Uniform Program, said in a statement. “This is a big decision, but we side with our people, and we are making a change.”

Delta has more than 60,000 uniformed workers worldwide.

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