An international ground services corporation operating at JFK International Airport has come under increased scrutiny by the Queens Congressional delegation for its alleged unfair labor practices.
Congressmembers Grace Meng, Gregory Meeks, Carolyn Maloney joined other New York City leaders in a joint statement calling out Eulen America, a Spanish-owned private contractor for its treatment of nonunion cabin cleaners, baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants to American Airlines and Delta.
“Over the last several weeks, we have heard troubling reports of worker mistreatment at JFK Airport. The allegations made by Eulen America employees raise serious concerns,” the Congressional members said on Aug. 5. “Employees have accused Eulen of workplace violations, such as forcing employees to take their paid sick days when they weren’t sick, or lose them, and not providing employees allowances for uniform cleaning, forcing them to pay for often expensive cleaning out of pocket. The allegations of unfair treatment and ignoring workers’ rights are serious, and we are deeply concerned.”
Eulen America dismissed the allegations saying it provides its workforce team uniforms that do not require commercial laundering or other special treatment, that it implements a generous rollover policy for paid leave and has documentation to prove it, and Eulen America claims that the minimum starting wages for team members working at JFK is $15.60 per hour.
“Eulen America cares deeply about our workforce and we are firmly committed to providing them a work environment and procedures that meet or exceed industry standards,” Eulen America CEO Xavier Rabell said. “We take our full compliance with New York City Worker Protection & Workplace Laws and all other applicable regulations and laws very seriously and we have always been available to answer any questions members of Congress may have about our workforce team and policies.”
Rabell added that despite the Service Employees International Union efforts to drum up support, there has not been sufficient interest among their workers to petition for a vote.
“We do not object at all if our employees wish to unionize,” Rabell said. “No one needs to mislead the public about our company in order to choose the right to collective bargaining. What we do object to is continued inaccurate and unfair characterizations about us and how we treat our team members.”
The new president of 32BJ SEIU Kyle Bragg, who took over the powerful service workers union after Héctor Figueroa died of a heart attack in July, thanked New York’s Congressional delegation for standing up for the Eulen America subcontracted airport workers.
“Throughout the year JFK Euen workers have been asking for help as they were forced to file complaints with the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection over violations of New York City’s paid sick leave policy and file a complaint with the New York State Attorney General’s Office when Eulen refused to pay a uniform allowance,” Bragg said. “The illegal and egregious employer violations detailed in the delegation’s joint statement are unacceptable. The workers’ complaints deserve this high level of support and attention. Earned sick leave and uniform laundry allowance are vital sources of support and supplemental income for airport workers making the minimum wage in New York City.
In conclusion, the Rosedale resident put pressure on one of the airlines that uses Eulen American workers at JFK.
“We urge American Airlines, which employs Eulen to provide passenger and ground services at airports around the country, to work to fix these egregious problems by hiring responsible contractors who can reliably follow the law,” Bragg said.