Airline bailout proposal excludes contracted airport workers who face dire consequences
Baltimore, MD – The airlines’ lobbying group, Airlines for America (A4A) has told Congress that they are seeking the bailout to avoid layoffs, but meanwhile thousands of contracted airport workers are laid off, including 78 at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport who facing dire circumstances:
Daijah Green was laid off from her job cleaning the inside of airplanes at BWI Airport for Menzies Aviation and now has absolutely no income. “How am I supposed to afford food for my daughter, or pay my bills? If I can’t pay for my phone bill or transportation, how can I find another job? I am anxious about the future and find myself looking for something productive to do with my time, but I’m stuck in the house with no answers. There are going to be even less jobs after all this and I feel so bad thinking about how we are all going to feed our children. How is anybody supposed to survive if we are still expected to pay our bills like car payments, rent/mortgage and childcare as usual?”
Alemayehu Semu was laid off from his job as a skycap for prospect at BWI Airport. “This was a shocking news for me because I have three kids that I have to take care of. Since my wife is a full time student, I am the only one providing for my family. I have a mortgage that I have to pay every month and I might lose my house because of this. I know airlines are getting billions of dollars from the government because of the Coronavirus. All I ask is for this bailout to include working people like me.”
Donny Leonard was laid off from him job as a fueler for Menzies Aviation at BWI Airport. This was his main source of income to provide for his son. “I really need this job to provide for my family and hope that some kind of assistance can be offered for all the airport workers going through the same experience.”
Ronaldo Dingzon was laid off from him job as a skycap for Prospect at BWI. “I help my 79-year-old mom here in the U.S. to pay for her medications. She underwent bypass surgery five years ago and has a heart condition. I help support her financially by paying for her co-pay, her medicine and I pay of our bills here at home. I also help my family back home in the Philippines, including tuition to my kids to help them pay for college, and I help them with their everyday needs back home, including rent, food and other costs. Losing my job will make it harder for me to help my family back home.”
While the airlines have stated they want to “secure financial assistance from the federal government to protect and preserve the 750,000 jobs of hardworking men and women who are directly employed by U.S. airlines, as well the 10 million jobs supported by the airline industry,” they have allowed thousands of contracted airline workers—baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants, and more—to lose their jobs with no compensation.
The bailout proposal from the airlines contains no provisions to protect these most vulnerable contracted workers who have been on the front lines of this crisis for weeks. As the airlines continue to lobby Congress to secure their bailout, thousands of low-wage workers, mostly men and women of color, are being thrown out on the street.
“It’s not just corporations that need support, it’s contracted workers who are actually the ones on the front lines and lack both health and financial protections,” said Jaime Contreras, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU. “There’s no reason basic protections for contracted airport workers shouldn’t be included and we are going to keep pushing for that.
“32BJ SEIU contracted are on the frontlines of the day-to-day airport operations. They care for our elderly and disabled loved ones, they move our baggage, they clean planes from national and international destinations, and they interact with hundreds of thousands of passengers from around the world. They are the most at risk in the face of this global pandemic, and they are the least who can afford to lose wages and benefits during this time of crisis.
“In this unprecedented time, Congress should do all it can to protect the economic health of the nation, but it is critical that contracted airport workers who come into close contact with millions of passengers every day have full access to emergency relief like layoff protection, paid sick leave, and affordable health care.
“Right now the airlines are asking the government for a $60 billion bailout, while contracted airport workers are given nothing. They live paycheck to paycheck and many lack healthcare to even care for themselves in the face of this pandemic.”
With more than 175,000 members in 11 states, including over 20,000 in D.C. region and Baltimore, MD, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.