Airport workers employed by Eulen America, a subcontractor at Terminal 8 at JFK International Airport, walked off the job Monday to demand that the company treats workers with respect.
The baggage handlers. Federal Inspection Services agents, passenger verification agents and wheelchair attendants went on strike to protest Eulen America violating workers’ right to organize by intimidating, coercing, disrespecting and spying on workers on the job.
“Managers, when they suspect we have been organizing, corner and interrogate us,” wheelchair attendant Lasonia Weaver said. “They say bad things about the union. But we know the truth: a union is our best path to good health insurance, better pay and paid vacation.”
SEIU 32BJ has organized several job actions against Eulen America this year citing the company’s long history of mistreatment of their almost exclusively immigrant workforce, including allegations that it retaliated against workers for speaking out. The contractor that provides passenger services to American Airlines and other airlines has an alarming history of unfair labor practice complaints, allegations of retaliation, unpaid wages and health and safety problems on the job.
“Eulen America needs to follow the law. Eulen workers are striking to show that lawbreaking and disrespect will no longer be tolerated,” 32BJ Vice President and Director of Organizing Rob Hill said. “Eulen workers are not going to take these abuses lying down. Eulen has responded to workers’ organizing efforts with threats, intimidation, retaliation and surveillance. As the claims against Eulen continue to grow, we will be out here, fighting for our rights.”
QNS reached out to Eulen America CEO Xavier Rabell and is awaiting his response.
“It’s shameful that this company comes here and doesn’t respect the right to organize by using intimidation tactics. But a lot of people here are going to stop that,” Councilman Frncisco Moya said. “We’ve got hardworking legislators who stand up for our brothers and sisters in labor. If Eulen thinks that you, the workers, are not worth it, well, we have a message for them. We will do everything possible to stop this kind of intimidation that happens in the workplace.”
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas stated that it is a violation of workers’ rights to spy on and intimidate workers.
“It’s a violation of workers’ rights to retaliate for organizing,” Simotas said. “”I’m here today to tell Eulen America and everyone who contracts with them that I’m going to be looking at companies that continue to Eulen to do their work because clearly they don’t respect workers. It’s your right to fight for your rights and I’m happy to support you. I will be here until this fight is won.”
From City Hall rallies to picket lines at JFK, political pressure continues to grow against Eulen America.
“I was out here in July, and we’re back now,” Assemblyman Edward Braunstein said. “Workers are asking for dignity and respect, these are simple things. We’re going to keep coming back until Eulen backs down and until we’re organized. At the end of the day, we’re going to be victorious.”
The striking workers returned to their jobs Tuesday, following their one-day strike.