DIA ser­vice work­ers go on one-day strike

Bag­gage han­dlers, cabin clean­ers, oth­ers were among those strik­ing

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Tom McGhee

Bag­gage han­dlers, cabin clean­ers and em­ploy­ees who pro­vide wheel­chair ser­vices to trav­el­ers at Denver In­ter­na­tional Air­port went on strike Wed­nes­day, but the job ac­tion had lit­tle im­pact on op­er­a­tions at the air­port.

More than 100 em­ploy­ees mounted a one-day strike against three pri­vate con­trac­tors: Prime­Flight, which pro­vides cabin clean­ing ser­vices to United Air­lines; G2, which pro­vides wheel­chair ser­vices for pas­sen­gers; and AirServe, which pro­vides wheel­chair and bag­gage ser­vices.

“We have not seen any de­layed flights and no op­er­a­tional im­pacts” re­sult­ing from the strike, which be­gan at 4 a.m., DIA spokesman Heath Mont­gomery said.

The work­ers, rep­re­sented by Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union Lo­cal 105, don’t earn enough — even work­ing full­time — to pro­vide for their fam­i­lies, said Alv­ina Vasquez, vice pres­i­dent of 360 Strate­gies, which pro­vides pub­lic-re­la­tions ser­vices for nonprofits.

SEIU wants to bring the work­ers into its union, said Carlos Con­tr­eras, or­ga­niz­ing di­rec­tor for Lo­cal 105.

“We want th­ese work­ers to have bet­ter con­di­tions,” Con­tr­eras said. “We be­lieve if they have a union un­der con­tract,” em­ploy­ers will have to im­prove pay and con­di­tions.

Mar­garet Thread­craft, who makes about $23,000 a year as a cabin cleaner for Prime­Flight, said the com­pany needs to im­prove pay and ben­e­fits. De­spite her low salary, she said, the best in­sur­ance plan pro­vided by Prime­Flight in­cludes a $5,000 de­ductible.

There is no sick or va­ca­tion pay, and al­though the com­pany pro­vides uni­forms, it doesn’t give em­ploy­ees pro­tec­tive gear they should have to clean toi­lets and per­form other tasks, she said.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Prime­Flight did not re­spond to a call from The Denver Post on Wed­nes­day.

The work­ers de­liv­ered a let­ter out­lin­ing their con­cerns to an air­port rep­re­sen­ta­tive for de­liv­ery to DIA CEO Kim Day, Mont­gomery said.

But Day has noth­ing to do with the op­er­a­tion of com­pa­nies that em­ploy the work­ers, Mont­gomery said. “The pri­vate com­pa­nies in­volved have con­tracts with the air­lines di­rectly and the air­port is not in­volved in those busi­ness ar­range­ments,” Mont­gomery said. “How­ever, this is a con­tract is­sue be­tween a con­trac­tor and their em­ploy­ees.”

The work­ers want Day to bring pres­sure on the com­pa­nies, Con­tr­eras said.

The em­ploy­ees marched through DIA chant­ing and call­ing on the com­pa­nies to “re­spect our rights.”

Em­ploy­ees also say health and safety is­sues they have iden­ti­fied have gone un­re­solved.

Mont­gomery said the only warn­ing he had there would be a job ac­tion was a re­quest from the union to pass out leaflets.

Union work­ers at the Ne­wark, LaGuardia, JFK and Philadel­phia air­ports sus­pended strikes while con­tract talks con­tinue, the Associated Press re­ported.

SEIU vice pres­i­dent Rob Hill early Wed­nes­day said “last-minute” talks be­tween the union and Amer­i­can Air­lines have re­sumed, so the union has “sus­pended” the strike while talks con­tinue

Steve Nehf, The Denver Post

Air­port work­ers go on strike at Denver In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Wed­nes­day. Bag­gage han­dlers, cabin clean­ers and em­ploy­ees who pro­vide wheel­chair ser­vices to trav­el­ers at DIA were among those on strike.

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