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Transportation Delta to launch new uniform program after worker complaints

Delta to launch new uniform program after worker complaints

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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. A Lands’ End spokeswoman had earlier declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

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.

In 2017, Fort Worth-based American Airlines changed uniform suppliers after employees complained the uniforms were causing reactions from hives to wheezing.

American told employees then it would not renew a contract with Twin Hill, a division of Houston-based Tailored Brands Inc., when the deal expires in 2020.

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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