(Miami, FL) Miami Airport workers who were laid off after sounding the alarm over dangerous working conditions, will testify at the Miami Dade County Commission on Wednesday February 22, and demand that they pass an anti-retaliation policy that will protect future whistleblowers. The workers will also demand a worker retention policy to ensure continuity of service every time an airline changes its service contractor.
“I worked hard at the airport for more than nine years and I was always a responsible, reliable worker,” said laid off MIA whistleblower, Carlos Garcia. “We were just trying to make the airport a safer place to travel and work. The County needs to act now to make sure that workers are protected when they speak out about dangerous working conditions.”
32BJ SEIU, the union that represents airport workers and other property service workers, will also hold a special citizens’ presentation, detailing the MIA workers’ fight to raise standards at the airport—a campaign that will only make the airport safer for both passengers and employees.
WHO: Miami Airport workers who were laid off after complaining about dangerous working conditions.
WHAT: Special citizens’ presentation at Miami Dade County Commission Meeting, urging Commissioners to pass policy that protects whistleblowers at MIA Airport.
WHERE: Stephen P. Clark Government Center (Outside Entrance on NW 1st Street)
111 NW 1st St., Miami, FL 33128
WHEN: Wednesday, February 21, 8:30 am
VISUALS: A dozen workers with signs.
This past June, airport workers for Ultra Aviation, subcontractor for Eulen America, which provides services for various international airlines, testified at a Miami Dade Trade and Tourism Committee Meeting about hazardous conditions at MIA, including being exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide, driving poorly maintained luggage tows with faulty breaks and other problems, and lack of access to clean drinking water.
After that meeting Ultra and Eulen were forced to make improvements, including purchasing new luggage tows (Eulen) and providing adequate drinking water and proper ventilation for the workers (Ultra). Unfortunately, many of these workers now find themselves without a job after Ultra lost its subcontract and Eulen took over the operation of the luggage tows in Terminal D.
Eulen, a Spanish company with a history of alleged labor violations and wage and hour claims, many of which were settled, has so far refused to hire some of the workers who were the most public about demanding better working conditions and wanting a union.
It is customary for incoming contractors to retain the same employees in order to have the benefit of an experienced, proven workforce and to avoid incurring training expenses and service interruptions. Unfortunately, there is no policy in Miami Dade County requiring contractors to do so, which puts the workforce at MIA at higher risk of turnover and less stability.
Furthermore, with the recent layoffs of the MIA whistleblowers, the County must act to protect other employees who may be too afraid to speak out for fear of retribution.
With 163,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service worker’s union in the country.