Overworked and Understaffed LGA airport workers say they’re denied Paid Sick Days; Cabin Cleaners only have few minutes to clean
New York, NY — Amid holiday travel chaos, overworked LaGuardia Airport workers will join protests in 15 major cities to call on Congress to pass the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act, which will ensure airport service workers have living wages and life-saving benefits such as paid time off and healthcare. Rallies and protests are planned at airports controlling 45% of all U.S. domestic air travel and 65% of all U.S. travel through major hubs. The LGA rally will take place on Thursday, December 8 at 12:30 PM at Terminal A at LGA.
“We don’t get enough paid time off. We’re supposed to get a week of paid sick days. But we’re so short-staffed they make it almost impossible for you to take a sick day,” says Omar Rodriguez, a ramp agent and cabin cleaner employed by the contractor Swissport USA.
Airport service workers, who do some of the toughest, dirtiest jobs, including cabin cleaners who clean blood, vomit, and human feces on planes or ramp agents who load and unload hundreds of bags a day, say low wages and lack of benefits are fueling high turnover rates and labor shortages at our nation’s airports. At LaGuardia, ramp agents employed by Swissport USA are required to double up as cabin cleaners, and some workers are pressured to come into work sick or denied paid sick days.
“We get blamed for delays, but we’re only given a few minutes to clean and don’t have enough people to do the work,” adds Rodriquez. “No one wants to stay because the pay and benefits are not enough for what we do.
LGA Event Details
Who: LaGuardia Airport workers, 32BJ members, elected officials, and allies
When: Thursday, December 8 at 12:30 PM
Where: Terminal A at LaGuardia Airport
Throughout the country, tens of thousands of airport workers, together with 32BJ SEIU and other SEIU locals, have won significant wage increases and benefits. However, many contracted workers don’t have vacation days, few if any holidays and only a handful of paid sick days. Many work two jobs just to survive in some of the most expensive cities in the world. In some states, state pre-emption laws prohibit airport workers from passing local living wage and benefit legislation, leaving many airport workers without decent wages and benefits, something that is counterproductive to maintaining a stable workforce at our national transportation hubs and airports.
The Good Jobs for Good Airports Act, sponsored by Senator Markey and co-sponsored by Senator Schumer, among many others, will ensure airport service jobs at our publicly-funded airports have national minimum wage and benefit standards that will help stabilize the workforce, keeping airports secure and travelers on time. According to a 2017 UC Berkeley study, better wages encourage employee retention and improve productivity and airport security.
With more than 175,000 members in 12 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.