Fort Lauderdale, FL—Two workers who were struck by lightning on Thursday night at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport earn just minimum wage with no affordable health care from their employer, Bags Inc. a Delta Airlines contractor and Eulen America, a separate contractor. On Tuesday, June 32rd, the Broward County Commission is expected to hold a final vote on a bill to improve airline and contractor standards and help prevent service disruptions at FLL.
“Despite the frequent risk of such harrowing experiences, airport workers who are paid poverty wages keep this major travel hub running smoothly through all sorts of conditions,” said Helene O’Brien, 32BJ SEIU’s Florida District Director.
Airlines at FLL are using low-bid contractors who routinely cut costs on the backs of employees to increase profits at the top. According to a recent study, low-bid contracting creates a race to the bottom that keeps workers in poverty, compromises the quality of service provided to passengers, and deprives communities of badly needed economic activity.
Baggage handlers, sky caps, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners, ramp workers, passenger assistance representatives, check-point screeners, fuelers, and security officers are excluded from the airport’s living wage law. According to a recent study, an estimated 37 percent of these workers and their families nationwide receive Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credit, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or some combination.
Echoing widespread community support for public policies promoting good jobs in Broward County,the Broward Democratic Party has adopted a resolution calling on the Commission to “hold airlines and their contractors accountable to South Florida communities by only using public money to support jobs that pay livable wages with benefits.”
“Broward County Commissioners can and must do better than allow airlines and their contractors to drive wages down in a race to the bottom. Commissioners should remember those who they were elected to serve-our families and our communities are counting on them to invest in good jobs. The Broward County Commission is respectfully urged to support a livable wage for workers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.”
With more than 145,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.