New York’s LaGuardia Airport Terminal D cabin cleaners walked off their jobs last night due to unsafe and unsanitary working conditions including Ebola cleanup.
The workers, employed by Air Serv, which contracts with Delta Airlines, hired to clean cabins and bathrooms are asserting that they are not adequately trained and equipped with the necessities to handle hazardous materials, including blood, feces and hypodermic needles.
‘I have to deal with vomit, feces and a lot of chemicals, without proper equipment,’ cleaner Johanna Cruz, 33 and from Queens, told the Daily News. ‘They give us gloves, but they might as well be made of paper because they rip so easily.’
Cruz and other workers complained they are transported to and from the planes in beat-up vans lacking seat belts. They receive little to no training for properly disposing of blood and other bodily fluids….
As posted on SEIU, Local 32BJ Facebook page, workers staged the strike “over hazardous labor conditions, including exposure to bodily fluids without proper protective wear, lack of goggles and face masks while cleaning, and lack of seat belts in transport vehicles and unfair labor practices.”
SEIU’s website (screenshots below) states that the strike is in support of “airport workers from JFK and LaGuardia.”
According to Hector Figueroa, President of 32BJ SEIU, “No one wants to go on strike, but the dangerous working conditions of these Air Serv cabin cleaners has given them no other choice…They have fought valiantly for two years — and have won pay raises – but still these contractors refuse to address the health and safety issues that are plaguing workers who have still not been afforded their right to join a union which would regularly advocate on their behalf.”
“who have still not been afforded their right to join a union” – The prime agenda behind last night’s strike.
Timing is, of course, everything when one takes into account that the strike began within hours of the CDC’s issuance of new Ebola screening protocols (“enhanced entry screening”) at five ports of entry in the USA.
LaGuardia Airport is not among the five airports where the new screening protocols will be implemented.
Collective bargaining aside, all everyone deserves to be protected from the Ebola virus whether it is in the workplace or on the streets of America.
Three or four days are not enough to train cabin cleaners to clean airplane cabins and bathrooms adequately and safely, let alone handle hazardous chemicals without risk to themselves, their families and the people who travel by air.
Finally, can’t help but wonder how Obama feels about SEIU cabin cleaners walking out on a plan pushed through by his administration and no doubt with his blessing.