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Contracted Baggage Handlers, Wheelchair Attendants and Cabin Cleaners take MLK-Inspired Action in Cities on the East Coast

Arlington, VA –Honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, airport workers contracted by Delta Airlines rallied at Reagan National Airport today calling on their employer, Eulen America, to improve working conditions. Airport workers in some of the nation’s busiest airports including JFK, Newark, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Miami, Boston and Philadelphia are rallying under the banner of “All Labor Has Dignity” this week. Workers at DCA are calling for an end to mistreatment from low-road contractors like Delta Airline’s Eulen America.

“It’s hard to do as good of a job as we want because there are not enough people. There were only three workers to clean an entire plane in three minutes,” said Charles Long, a Eulen America worker at DCA. “I’m a baggage handler now and there’s always people coming and going here too because they say there’s too many bags and not enough workers.”

In June of 2019, Eulen service workers at DCA walked off the job on strike against their employer, Eulen America. The workers were protesting health and safety concerns and belittlement of workers. A Eulen supervisor was heard calling non-English speaking workers “slow” and “retarded.” Eulen workers went on strike the same day in June at four of the nation’s busiest airports including Miami, JFK and Fort Lauderdale.

The airport workers—mostly immigrant and African American—embody Dr. King’s fight for economic, racial and social justice. Inspired by Dr. King’s legacy, 17,000 airport workers have won their union 32BJ SEIU and tens of thousands more have won wage raises as a result of their campaign. Eulen has remained an outlier and has threatened, retaliated, and even fired workers who are simply trying to improve their jobs.

American and Delta Airlines contracts with Eulen at Miami International, JFK, Reagan National, Fort Lauderdale, DCA and other airports, to provide services like cabin cleaning, baggage handling, and more. Between the various airports, Eulen has an alarming history of claims filed by its employees for alleged failure to pay overtime, alleged wage theft, contentions of discrimination and sexual harassment, and other unfair labor practices.

“Eulen workers are speaking out about the treatment and working conditions they experience every day,” said 32BJ SEIU Vice President, Jaime Contreras. “It is an affront to Dr. King’s legacy that, 52 years after his death, Eulen is perpetuating a race to the bottom that undermines the hard-fought progress that airports workers have made.”

Last week, Eulen workers from Orlando and Miami International Airport came to Washington for The House Subcommittee on Aviation Hearing on: “Oversight of Working Conditions for Airline Ground Workers,” to urge Congress to ensure that airlines only hire responsible contractors that don’t endanger workers’ health, safety and lives. Eulen America was the focus of a CBS Miami investigative report exposing OSHA violations.

With more than 175,000 members in 11 states, including over 20,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area and Baltimore, MD, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.