Hillside—Stop putting airport workers at risk! That was the message elected officials, clergy, PrimeFlight Newark airport workers and supporters brought to PrimeFlight’s doorstep today after an OSHA investigation into PrimeFlight at Newark International Airport uncovered numerous hazardous– and in some cases life-threatening– working conditions.
OSHA also issued proposed citations this week to PrimeFlight over hazardous conditions for workers at LaGuardia Airport.
In Newark, where PrimeFlight is a subcontractor for United Airlines, OSHA proposed citations included:
· Potential exposure to blood borne pathogens
· PrimeFlight fails to provide lift trucks with protections to keep workers from falling to the concrete below, a hazard OSHA says is “likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”
· In addition, OSHA noted safety problems with the vans used to transport workers, including doors that jam shut or open while driving, missing seatbelts and steering problems.
Elected leaders and clergy joined workers at PrimeFlight’s offices to demand the company provide safe working conditions at Newark Airport. They also called on the company to turn over its safety logs to PrimeFlight employees so they can make sure all the worker injuries have been properly recorded. The delegation knocked on PrimeFlight’s office door hoping for a response but no one came out to address its concerns.
“PrimeFlight Newark airport workers who clean United Airlines planes shouldn’t have to endure unsafe working conditions,” said Senator Raymond Lesniak, who represents New Jersey’s 20th Legislative District. “OSHA’s investigation should serve as a wake-up call to United Airlines that it needs to hire responsible contractors.”
PrimeFlight is a Nashville-based company with 4,500 employees at 49 airports across the U.S. and Caribbean. The vast majority of its workers in Newark are cabin cleaners that clean United Airlines planes.
Newark PrimeFlight cabin cleaner America Hernandez says workers need to better protected on the job. “Airport workers like me are on the front lines. We keep the airports moving, thriving and profitable,” said Hernandez. “All we ask in return is to be valued, protected and have the tools and equipment we need to do our job safely.”
“Nearly all of the proposed citations concerned violations deemed ‘serious’ by OSHA investigators,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ Vice President and NJ State Director. “This is unacceptable. PrimeFlight is raking in profits while its employees are facing dangerous and in some cases life-threatening conditions here in New Jersey. PrimeFlight has a legal and moral responsibility to ensure the safety of its employees.”
OSHA’s proposed citations for PrimeFlight at Newark Airport include a fine of $30,000. Elected officials and clergy are asking PrimeFlight officials to respond to these charges and sit down with them and PrimeFlight employees to work toward remedies.
This week OSHA also proposed at least six citations against PrimeFlight Aviation Services at LaGuardia airport as well, where the company provides cabin cleaning, baggage handling and wheelchair attendant services to JetBlue. The citations include serious violations, including workers not being provided with the training or necessary vaccinations they need to handle the blood, feces and possible blood borne pathogens they encounter on the job. While OSHA has yet to announce the final amount of fines against PrimeFlight at LaGuardia Airport, workers have now raised similar health and safety concerns at three airports – EWR, LGA and PHL— where PrimeFlight provides services to airlines.
*About 32BJ: With 155,000 members in 11 states–including more than 10,000 in New Jersey–32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.