Federal Agency Orders Airline Contractor to Reinstate Wheelchair Attendant at Dulles International Airport and Provide Back Pay

Julie Karant: 646-584-9001; jkarant@seiu32bj.org

Federal Agency Orders Airline Contractor to Reinstate Wheelchair Attendant at Dulles International Airport and Provide Back Pay

Huntleigh Corporation Fired a Mother of Three in Retaliation for Lawfully Protected Strike

Washington, D.C. – A Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board has found that the Huntleigh Corporation fired a Dulles International Airport wheelchair attendant in retaliation for her participation in a 2016 strike to protest Huntleigh’s poverty wages.

The NLRB will seek reinstatement for Swartha Tujare and an estimated $8,000 in back pay from December 14, 2016. If Huntleigh does not agree to settle the case with reinstatement, back pay, and a notice posting describing worker rights, the NLRB will issue a complaint and set the matter for hearing.

“I am still behind on so many bills,” said Tujare, a mother of three from Reston, VA. “As if that’s bad enough, I couldn’t work for several months because Huntleigh took my badge.”

Hundreds of contracted service workers at Reagan National Airport and Dulles walked off the job on strike in April to protest federal labor violations charged against their employer, Huntleigh, including surveilling, interrogating and firing Tujare for lawfully protected activities.

“Huntleigh’s coercive behavior towards these workers is against the law and has no place at our airports,” said 32BJ Vice President, Jaime Contreras. “Huntleigh should get the message that they must allow workers to focus on keeping our airports and passengers safe, rather than worrying about being fired at will.”

As passengers continue to demand better treatment in light of recent scandals, workers demand the same. The April strike came on the heels of the United Airlines incident which has renewed focus on the airline industry and the lengths they go to save money. Long before the outcry over the treatment of United passenger David Dao, airport workers across the country have been sounding alarms on a broken, low-bid subcontracting system—yet another cost-cutting effort by the airlines that undermines quality and standards. Meanwhile, the aviation industry is enjoying record profits of more than $23 billion in 2015 alone.

Workers have gone on strike twice against Huntleigh USA Corporation, which is based in Irving, Texas. At Dulles, the company services: American Airlines, Air China, Air Canada, Air France, Austrian Airlines, Saudia, Emirates, Ethiopian, KLM, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qatar, South African, Avianca, Icelandair, Copa, LATAM Airlines, TACA Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, JetBlue. At DCA Huntleigh airlines include: Jetblue, Virgin America, Southwest, American, Sun Country, Air Canada and Frontier.

 

With more than 163,000 members in 11 states, including 18,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.

 

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