WHO: LaGuardia’s Air Serv Cabin Cleaners, supporting airport workers from JFK and LaGuardia, and community supporters.
WHAT: The start of the picket line as Air Serv cabin cleaners walk out of work and strike over health and safety concerns, including lack of protection against possible exposure to Ebola and other infectious diseases, and to protest unfair labor practices, including illegal threats to workers who plan to strike. Some planes on the night shift require a federally mandated 4-hour deep-clean, which happens during the overnight shift.
WHEN: Weds. Oct. 8, 2014. Picket line goes up at 10 p.m. Workers available for interviews.
WHERE: Outside Terminal D Arrivals at LaGuardia Airport
WHY: Air Serv cabin cleaners have filed several OSHA complaints in the past several years and have yet to see their concerns addressed. Air Serv Cabin cleaning crews report that the number of workers per job have been decreased by up to half and the time allocated to clean entire planes has been reduced to as little as 5 minutes. Although workers often find hypodermic needles, vomit and blood while cleaning, they worry they might not be able to clean entire cabins given these constraints. Just last month one of the Air Serv cabin cleaners was hospitalized after being pricked with a hypodermic needle while cleaning out a seatback pocket. On occasion these non unionized workers report pipe malfunctions that result in them being sprayed by feces when empting airplane lavatories. When they are cleaning by hand, they report not being given durable gloves or face masks to use to protect against strong, often unlabeled chemicals. Some cabin cleaners have experienced allergic reactions. They report being forced to ride in vans that don’t have enough functioning seatbelts and often don’t have seats. Leaking garbage is transported in these vans along with workers. With the increased concern over the spread of Ebola these hazards become even more concerning. Air Serv has also repeatedly, illegally threatened to fire workers if they went on strike. For more than two years, contracted workers at JFK, La Guardia and Newark airports have fought for economic justice, benefits and the right to join a union of their choice.
VISUALS: Striking airport workers carrying signs and chanting.
With more than 145,000 members, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service union in the country