Current JOIN Fellow Rose Levy is working with service workers’ union SEIU 32BJ. In April, workers held a rally to draw attention to their exposure to hazardous conditions on the job. A similar campaign is taking place in Philadelphia, where JOIN friends and alumni Cecily Harwitt, Rabbi Lauren Grabelle-Hermman and Liz Manlin are active leaders.
The following article was originally published on Public News Service on April 3, 2014.
Logan Workers ask Airlines, Subcontractors to “Clean Up their Act”
By Mike Clifford, Public News Service
BOSTON – There’s a call for airlines and the companies they subcontract with to “clean up their act” when it comes to worker safety and training at Logan Airport. According to Roxana Rivera, director of service workers’ union 32BJ SEIU, cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants and baggage handlers are holding a rally today to draw attention to their exposure to hazardous conditions on the job. She said every facet of airport operations contributes to safety, and airlines and their subcontractors are letting workers and the flying public down.
“A good 1500 workers who are told on a daily basis that they should be the eyes and the ears for safety … Yet workers who are paid poverty wages at the airport aren’t provided with proper safety training or equipment,” Rivera charged.
Rivera said that, in 2013, four subcontractors at Logan were cited for federal health and safety violations and initially fined more than $37,000.
Rivera said that in the last five months, workers have filed multiple complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for such problems as exposure to bodily fluids when cleaning out aircraft lavatories.
“We’re really trying to get the airlines and the contractors that directly employ these workers to step up and help set standards that will ensure increased safety for workers and passengers at the airport,” she said.
Rivera credited Massport with making an effort to tackle the safety problems, and said subcontractors such as Ready Jet should not wait for OSHA to fix the problems.
“You know, I don’t think the general public understands until they actually hear workers themselves that have been affected by health and safety issues that we’ve raised through OSHA, and the urgency we need to take action,” the union official declared.
Today’s rally takes place at the Logan Airport stop on the Blue Line at 3 p.m.