Thousands of airport workers postpone strike following Brussels terrorist attacks

Terminal cleaners, cabin cleaners, skycaps, wheelchair agents, customer service agents, terminal security officers, ramp workers and baggage handlers who were set to strike Tuesday and Wednesday decided to postpone the planned work stoppage in light of the horrific tragedy which unfolded at the Brussels Airport and subway, workers representatives said.

“We stand in solidarity with the Brussels Airport workers and our thoughts and prayers are with the families that lost loved ones in this senseless tragedy,” said Legesse Woldearegay who works as a customer service agent for Eulen America, a Miami-based Delta and American airlines contractor. “We must all work together to make our airports as safe as they can possibly be.”

Airport workers were ready to draw attention to the myriad issues they face at the workplace, including health and safety violations, unfair labor practices, and inadequate training. They are organizing as part of a national movement for better jobs, higher standards and improved airports.

“We need critical training to protect ourselves, other workers and the passengers if there were to be an emergency,” said security officer Sadaf Subijano, who has worked at Chicago´s O´Hare International Airport for 20 years.

Despite playing a crucial role in helping to keep the airport safe, Subijano and her fellow officers working for Universal Security do not receive the critical training they need for their own safety, to protect other employees and the traveling public.

“As a union that represents nearly 20,000 contract airport service workers in over 30 US airports, as well as security screeners at San Francisco International Airport, our union takes seriously the need to ensure the safety and security of US airports,” said Valarie Long, SEIU International Executive Vice President. “SEIU supports efforts to improve airport safety and security through policies that set minimum labor and training standards for airport contractors and provide incentives for airport workers to stay in their jobs long-term. SEIU strongly believes that airports, the Federal Aviation Administration and other stakeholders need to come together to develop national safety standards.”

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.