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CUPEs Airline Division is celebrating 50 years of organizing for flight attendants rights.

Representing nearly 9,000 flight attendants, the Division formed in 1986 out of a merger with the Canadian Air Line Flight Attendants Association (CALFAA). Since CALFAAs 1948 certification as the bargaining agent for Trans-Canada Airlines (later to become Air Canada), flight attendants have won significant victories in health and safety, wages and benefits, workload, equality and human rights.

Flight attendants have shattered stereotypes by showing the value of their work as safety professionals. Waitresses in the sky no more, their efforts have ended many examples of blatant discrimination. Flight attendants once faced automatic dismissal when they married or became pregnant. Age, height, clothing, makeup and weight restrictions further limited women. And flight attendants flew long hours for low pay with little or no safety training.

While flight attendants today work under vastly improved conditions, the Division faces new challenges including ongoing pay equity complaints, as well as the dangers posed by unruly passengers, excessive carry-on baggage and poor quality cabin air. Building on a solid foundation of achievement, the Divisions strength continues to grow as new groups of flight attendants organize to join CUPE.

Division members are looking forward to another half-century of success in fighting for flight attendants rights.