Following a toxic uniform incident in which nearly half of the Atlanta-based airline’s crew swapped out the official uniform for off-the-rack alternatives, flight attendants at Delta Air Lines will soon be prohibited from wearing their own clothing at work.
Flight attendants will not be permitted to wear the ‘black and white’ uniform under any circumstances beginning Monday, May 2. However, several flight attendants remain concerned that the root cause of the health issues has not been thoroughly identified.
Delta debuted a new Zac Posen-designed uniform in 2018 amid considerable excitement, but within weeks of its introduction, several frontline employees began to experience major adverse responses to the clothing.
Rashes, welts, hives, dizziness, confusion, breathing difficulties, and even hair loss have all been reported as side effects of the outfit.
Health issues, according to campaigners, may be linked to chemicals used in the uniform’s manufacturing process, including particular treatments that make the uniform stain-resistant and less prone to wrinkling.
Independent laboratory testing of sample uniform pieces has failed to adequately back up such allegations, but as the problems became more pervasive, Delta provided employees the choice to forego the uniform and come to work dressed in their own clothes.
The exemption was only meant to last for six weeks.
For nearly five years, though, a rising number of Delta employees have been donning off-the-rack alternatives to the official uniform: black pants or skirts, a white shirt or blouse, and a black sweater or cardigan.
After introducing an alternate uniform made with Oeko-Tex 100 certified material, Delta is finally terminating the exception. From Monday, flight attendants must wear one of the official uniform options or face unpaid leave.
Some flight attendants are concerned that the new uniform would not adequately address their issues, and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) argues that the rule will cause widespread disruption since “hundreds” of crew members will be compelled to take an unpaid vacation.
The union, which does not formally represent Delta flight attendants, is using the poisonous uniform issue as yet more incentive for the airline’s crew members to join together.
Toxic uniform incidents have impacted operations at American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines in recent years. American Airlines launched a new uniform using Oeko-Tex standard 100 fabric in March 2020, which resulted in a significant reduction in uniform-related health concerns.