Newark— Underpaid cabin cleaners employed by United Airlines contractor PrimeFlight Aviation Services at Newark Airport will be striking beginning Wednesday night, March 30th. They will join striking airport workers across the country who will protest unsafe working conditions and speak out against their employer illegally standing in their way when workers attempt to unite around the common purpose of raising standards and making their workplace safe. Workers will also address how some of these working conditions could impact airport security. For example the PrimeFlight cabin cleaners, who are at times responsible for conducting security checks as they clean the plane, say they often aren’t given enough time to do these critical checks. And there have been instances where workers on the night shift were expected to conduct these checks for bombs, weapons and other dangerous items with no lights on inside the plane.
“Airport workers are on the front lines. They do their best to keep airports safe and secure,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “But how can we expect them to do this critical work if they’re not given the time and training they say they need to do a thorough job?”
“The heroic work of the airport workers in Brussels highlights the important role airport workers play in keeping passengers and facilities safe,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ Vice President and NJ State Director. “We need to invest in both physical and human capital in order to better protect the public, workers and our airports.”
Airport workers across the country are concerned that inadequate safety and health standards, along with low wages, high turnover, insufficient or lack of training at our airports not only put workers in danger but also undermine safety and quality of service for passengers.
A December 2015 GAO report – noting health and safety violations by contracted aviation services employers – supports workers’ concerns that aviation service providers do not ensure that workers have the necessary training and protective equipment.
The strike comes on the heels of an OSHA investigation of PrimeFlight at Newark and LaGuardia Airports that uncovered numerous health and safety issues that are putting workers at risk, including some that OSHA says may cause accidents that are “likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.” From exposure to blood borne pathogens to PrimeFlight’s failure to provide lift trucks with protections to keep workers from falling 20 feet to the concrete below, PrimeFlight Newark Airport workers face serious hazards on the job. That’s why they’re hitting the picket lines and speaking out against this injustice and unsafe working conditions.
Workers at other major hubs in Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Fort Lauderdale, and Washington, D.C. will also be striking. In Los Angeles, airport workers will rally at LAX to bring attention to the unfair working conditions they face in the hands of bottom feeder contractors. The strikes and rallies are part of a national push by airport workers who are uniting with other underpaid workers in the Fight for 15 movement to do whatever it takes to win at least $15 and union rights for every airport worker so they can provide for their families and better care for the hundreds of millions of passengers who rely on them to travel safely.
WHAT: Newark Airport workers strike over unfair labor practices and safety and health concerns
WHO: Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop & other elected officials and clergy will be joining Newark PrimeFlight cabin cleaners and supporters
WHEN: Thursday, March 31, 2016 Strike Rally at 11am
*Press availability at picket line at the following times:
· Wednesday, 3/30 at 10pm
· Thursday, 3/31 at 7:30am
WHERE: Newark Liberty International Airport, Terminal C Arrivals, outside Door #1
*Striking workers and supporters are available for interviews starting Wednesday at 10pm. Contact Desirée Taylor at 917-808-6857.
VISUALS: Banners, Signs, buttons, and a sea of purple t-shirts
PrimeFlight Newark Airport workers started organizing and fighting for justice in 2013. Last November, Newark PrimeFlight workers held their first-ever strike, part of a national day of action at airports across the country. They’ve fasted and held civil disobedience actions in an effort to get living wages and defend their right to a union but PrimeFlight refuses be a responsible employer and respect workers’ rights. The OSHA citations underscore the hazardous conditions workers face and they are striking to protest the dangerous health and safety issues they face on the job.
*About 32BJ: With 155,000 members in 11 states–including more than 11,000 in New Jersey–32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.
Around the country, contracted airport workers are coming together in Airport Workers United, a movement of workers and their allies, raising their voices for $15 and union rights to make our airports safe and secure for passengers, employees and our communities. By sticking together, speaking out for change, and going on strike, these workers have won wage increases in Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, and Fort Lauderdale. Today, more than 70,000 workers nationwide have either received wages increases or other improvements, including healthcare, paid sick leave and worker retention policies as a result of the workers’ campaign.