Mayors and Elected Officials from MA to FL Demand that Contracted Passenger Service Workers are Included in Airline Bailout

Julie Blust jblust@seiu32bj.org 215-713-6777
Traci Benjamin tbenjamin@seiu32bj.org 215-300-0776

Mayors and Elected Officials from MA to FL Demand that Contracted Passenger Service Workers are Included in Airline Bailout

With Senate Poised to Vote on a Bailout
Mayor de Blasio, Mayor Kenney, Others Sign onto Letter Urging Immediate Action from McConnell

 

The following letter was delivered to the Senate Majority Leader and House Speaker today:

 

 

March 24, 2020

TO: Honorable Mitch McConnell

Majority Leader United States Senate

317 Russell Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

TO: Honorable Nancy Pelosi

The Speaker of the House of Representatives

United State Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Speaker Pelosi:

 

We are writing to urge that any economic relief must act to put the health, safety, and financial well-being of American workers first in their efforts to address the COVID-19 crisisthis must include the wellbeing of the estimated 125,000 subcontracted service workers at our nation’s airports and their families.

 

The airline industry is calling for over $50 billion in assistance, yet the four biggest U.S. carriers in the last five years spent 80% of the amount on share buybacks. During this period the industry has actively fought subcontracted airport workers’ efforts to win living wages, sick days, and health care. We cannot simply write the airline industry a blank check.

 

Cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants, baggage handlers, security officers and other employees of airline contractors are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and play a critical role in stopping infections from spreading throughout the U.S. aviation system and into cities and towns across the country. Any economic relief to the airline industry must also protect and invest in the employees of their contractors whose health and livelihood is on the line. That the Airline industry has chosen to create a shadow economy by contracting out workers performing critical functions to increase profit margins, does not mean that these workers are any less worthy of assistance than direct airline employees. Moreover, these are the workers who can least afford layoffs, since they are generally the lowest paid workers at the airports, meaning that they are unlikely to have substantial savings. Many of them were already struggling on low pay and without paid sick days or health benefits. Already approximately 1,000 contracted workers are being laid off at Philadelphia International Airport, Delta is laying off 800 contracted workers, while nearly 90 security employees are being laid off at the Atlanta International Airport. Doubtless, there will be more layoffs in the upcoming days. While we appreciate the steps taken by certain airlines like limiting executive compensation and allowing early retirements to limit the impact on direct employees, we cannot simply ignore contracted workers. We have a moral obligation to ensure these workers aren’t excluded from relief and that they be treated like direct airline employees.

 

In this unprecedented time, Congress should do all it can to protect the economic health of the nation, but it is critical that contracted airport workers who are exposed to millions of passengers have full access to emergency relief like layoff protection, paid sick leave, and affordable health care. Unfortunately, the law Congress recently passed to provide some emergency sick days will exclude the majority of contracted airport workers, because it exempts companies with more than 500 employees. We must ensure that no taxpayer dollars go to the airline industry without essential protections for airport workers.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ras Baraka, Mayor of Newark, NJ

Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City

Luke Bronin, Mayor of Hartford, CT

James Diossa, Mayor of Central Falls, RI

Timothy Dougherty, Mayor of Morristown, NJ

Justin Elicker, Mayor of New Haven, CT

Steve Fulop, Mayor of Jersey City

Donald R. Grebien, Mayor of Pawtucket, RI

Jim Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia, PA

Hector Lora, Mayor of Passaic, NJ

Bill Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh

Sumbul Siddiqui, Mayor of Cambridge, MA

Michael Soriano, Mayor of Parsipanny, NJ

 

New York:

Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President

Steve Bellone, County Executive, Suffolk County, NY

Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President

Ruben Diaz, Jr. Bronx Borough President

George Latimer, County Executive, Westchester County, NY

Sharon Lee, Queens Borough President (Acting)

Corey Johnson, NYC Council Speaker

Scott Stringer, NYC Comptroller

Jumaane Williams, Public Advocate, New York City

 

Miami Florida:

Daniella Levine Cava, Miami Dade Commissioner

Eileen Higgins, Miami Dade Commissioner

Jean Monestime, Miami Dade Commissioner

 

Baltimore, Maryland:

John Bullock, City Councilmember, Baltimore, MD

Bill Henry, City Councilmember, Baltimore, MD

Brandon Scott, City Council President, Baltimore, MD

 

Virginia:

Jeff McKay, Chairman, Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County, VA

Dalia Palchik, Providence District Supervisor, Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County, VA

James Walkinshaw, Braddock District Supervisor, Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County, VA

 

 

With more than 175,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.

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