Striking US airport workers call for workforce investment in emergency preparedness

In the wake of terrorist attacks in Brussels, US airport workers engaging in an Unfair Labor Practice strike at nine airports are calling for more workforce investment and emergency preparedness for all airport workers.

US airport workers postponed their strike and instead held vigils to honor the victims of the Brussels attacks. This week, they held a rally at Los Angeles International Airport and held a strike at Sea-Tac (Seattle), O´Hare, Logan (Boston), John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark, Philadelphia, Reagan National, and Fort Lauderdale.

The attack on Brussels´ Zaventem airport and a 2013 shooting at LAX both show airport service workers–including baggage handlers, passenger service agents, wheel chair assistants, security officers and others–are the very first responders in emergencies.

According to press reports, Brussels baggage handler Alphonse Lyoura pulled seven people to safety.

Shortly after the LAX shooting, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti publicly acknowledged the heroic actions of LAX service workers, including one passenger service agent who made the first call to police and stayed at the site while others were fleeing.

As detailed in a 2014 SEIU-United Service Workers West report, while law enforcement secured the terminal, airport workers provided vital assistance to assure the safety and well-being of travelers — guiding them to safer areas of the tarmac, helping disabled passengers requiring wheelchair assistance to evacuate and providing food to children during an all-day lock-down.

Around the country, contracted airport workers are coming together in Airport Workers United, a movement of employees and their allies, raising their voices for USD15 and union rights to make our airports safe and secure for passengers, employees and our communities.