American Airlines’ Itchy Wool Uniforms Prompt PETA Appeal

Vegan Wool Uniforms Would Spare Sheep Abuse—and Employees Rashes and Headaches

For Immediate Release:
December 6, 2016

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Fort Worth, Texas

As American Airlines’ flight-attendant union calls for a recall of the company’s new wool uniforms—which have reportedly caused more than 1,600 employees to suffer from headaches, rashes, hives, burning skin, itching, eye irritation, and more—PETA sent a letter today urging the airline to replace all uniforms with the vegan wool versions that have already been ordered for hundreds of employees so far.

In the letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear”—notes that eyewitness investigations of the wool industry in Australia, the U.S., and South America have revealed that sheep are punched, kicked, and stomped on. Shearers are often paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast, violent work that can lead to gaping wounds on sheep’s bodies. The wounds are then stitched closed—without giving the animals any painkillers.

“Wearing the wool of sheep who were beaten, kicked, and mutilated should make anyone sick,” says PETA Director of Corporate Affairs Anne Brainard. “PETA is calling on American Airlines to put wool on the no-fly list and improve the welfare of sheep and employees alike.”

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PETA’s letter to American Airlines CEO Doug Parker follows.

Dear Mr. Parker,

Greetings from PETA and our more than 5 million and supporters worldwide. I am writing to ask you to make the skies friendlier for both your employees and animals by making American Airlines’ uniforms wool-free.

I sympathize with the employees who suffered from headaches, rashes, hives, burning skin, eye irritation, itching, and respiratory problems while wearing the new uniforms. Countless people have contacted PETA to tell us that they stopped wearing wool because it made them sick—the video footage from our exposés of the wool industry, that is.

Over the last two years, on three continents and in 39 different shearing sheds, PETA has documented the abuse of gentle sheep. Our investigations revealed that shearers—who are usually paid by volume, not by the hour—shear sheep quickly and carelessly and often cut off strips of skin, teats, tails, and ears. Workers either ram a needle through the sheep’s skin in a crude attempt to sew up the worst wounds or just leave the animals to suffer. Both are done without painkillers. We documented that shearers punch, kick, and stomp on sheep, in addition to hitting them in the face with electric clippers and standing on their heads, necks, and hind limbs. One shearer was caught beating a lamb in the head with a hammer. Another used a sheep’s body to wipe the sheep’s own urine off the floor. And yet another shearer repeatedly twisted and bent a sheep’s neck, breaking it.

And wool carries a lot of environmental baggage. The United Nations reports that manure generated from livestock has contributed significantly to the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases over the last 250 years. During that time, the concentration of methane has increased by more than 130 percent in the U.S. Combine that with soil erosion, water pollution, consumption of a vast amount of resources, processing facilities that use a stew of chemicals, etc., and it’s easy to see that wool is as damaging to the environment as it is to employees’ health.

These gentle animals are highly intelligent and emotionally complex. They have distinct individual personalities, and they experience fear, stress, and depression similar to the way that humans do. Putting wool on the no-fly list would prevent numerous sheep from suffering. And it would leave employees reaching for the overhead bin instead of the Benadryl.

I’d be happy to talk more with you about eco-friendly, wool-free fabrics. Thank you for your consideration.


Tracy Reiman

Executive Vice President

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