Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A trade group representing 3 major U.S. airlines has filed a lawsuit against the state of Washington, over its new paid sick leave law that took effect at the first of the year.
The suit filed by Airlines for America -- which represents Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Parcel Service -- argues the paid sick leave mandate is unconstitutional for Washington-based pilots and flight attendants because they spend most of their working time outside of the state.
Washington voters adopted the Paid Sick Leave Act in November 2016 -- which, along with establishing a statewide minimum wage, requires employers to give dedicated paid sick leave to every employee.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma Tuesday, says employees are already paid generous sick leave benefits that were negotiated through collective bargaining agreements.
"For example, a flight crew departing from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, landing in Portland International Airport, and continuing to San Diego International Airport is subject to three different paid sick leave laws in a single duty period, each with its own accrual, compensation, reporting, and leave requirements," the lawsuit states.
With 36 other state and local jurisdictions imposing various legal requirements for paid sick leave, regulations for airline carriers creates an inconsistency, the trade group argues.
Flight attendant unions say they will fight the lawsuit, while acknowledging they already have better sick leave benefits than those provided by the new Washington law.
"As long as airlines operate in the state, they are subject to state laws," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said in a statement. "This is not the first time a local or state law has affected the industry."