A group of Alaska Airlines flight attendants says their new uniforms are literally making them sick.
In a letter to the airline president last month, union leaders representing about 2,800 flight attendants said one in 10 employees were affected by the new company-issued duds, complaining of itching hair loss and other maladies.
Speaking to Seattle's King5 news, one flight attendant said "I’ve never had a uniform like this. I broke out this week. I broke out on my back first, then on my legs."
The outfits, made by uniform maker TwinHill, may be contaminated with tributyl phosphate, King5 reports, citing union sources. The chemical is a toxic solvent that's used in synthetic textile manufacturing.
An official with the airline tells King5 that two alternate uniforms have been made available to flight attendants. Meanwhile Alaska union members are bracing for a media storm, according to a bulletin posted to their website:
Reporters may be filming our flight attendants going about their business in public areas, which is not an issue. There is also the possibility of reporters approaching flight attendants to ask questions about the TwinHill uniform.
Last year, Virgin Blue flight attendants complained that their new uniforms, which were designed by a "Project Runway" alum, were a "hindrance" in an emergency as "the arms cannot be lifted above shoulder height due to the ill-fitting design and in the event of a fire, being 100 per cent polyester it would be like having plastic melted on to the skin."