Fort Lauderdale, FL—As many Americans prepare to take a trip during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, Fort Lauderdale Airport service workers who clean terminals and aircrafts, push wheelchairs and handle baggage rallied at the airport today to demand improved working standards that allow them to enjoy a proper Thanksgiving celebration with their families.
“I wish I could spend this holiday with my family, but with me earning $4.65 an hour, a Thanksgiving dinner is out of the question,” said Edson Jocelyn who has worked at FLL Airport for 7 years and is forced to rely on Medicaid for his daughters’ healthcare. “Fair wages, health insurance, some paid days off to spend time with my family – that is all I and my coworkers ask.”
As many as 1,500 service workers at Fort Lauderdale Airport struggle to make ends meet, with many of them earning wages as low as $7.67 per hour and tipped employees paid as little as $4.65. These workers, who provide critical services such as cleaning terminals and aircrafts, pushing wheelchairs, handling baggage and working to keep Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport clean and hospitable to travelers.
“As a regional economic engine, the airport should benefit everybody not just airlines and contractors that profit under a business model that is fundamentally unfair,” said Eric Brakken, Director of 32BJ SEIU one of the largest unions of property service workers in the country. “Airports have a shadow economy in which thousands of workers struggle on minimum wage or even less, relaying on tips to get by and lacking basic benefits like health insurance or paid sick time.”
“As a resident of Fort Lauderdale and neighbor to the airport, it’s important to me that the workers have the highest standards and fair wages – this can only strengthen our economy and make our community a better place for everyone,” said Ada Lattimore, ON board member and community activist.
At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, airline service companies such as Bags, Superior Aircraft Services, G2 Secure Staff, Eulen America and Menzies Aviation have created a race to the bottom that is undermining the livelihoods of thousands of airport service workers and their families.
With over 21 million travelers every year, Fort Lauderdale Airport is an economic engine for the region, contributing over $2.6 billion to the local economy and generating 44,000 jobs.
With more than 120,000 members, SEIU 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.