Broward News

Lauderdale Airport Workers to See Improved Standards After Bill Passes

Broward commissioners passed a bill last night that can revoke permits of companies at the airport whose services get interrupted due to a work stoppage by employees, like a strike. This comes as a win for aggrieved airport workers -- baggage handlers, sky caps, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners, ramp workers, passenger assistance representatives, check-point screeners, fuelers, and security officers -- who were already clamoring for change after two of their own were struck by lightning recently.

The bill doesn't directly improve the pay of the workers, but it gets them much closer to being able to unionize, as the Sun Sentinel points out. Contractors will now have to have contracts ensuring "uninterrupted services'' to airport travelers.

"We've all seen the growing unrest among the employees of low-bid airline contractors at airports all around the country, including right here at our Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport," Commissioner Martin Kiar said at the meeting. "These airport workers are demanding to be heard about their low wages and poor working conditions, and they are right to do so. We hope the airlines and their service contractors are listening to the workers' concerns and are prepared to address those concerns to avert problems at our airport."

Direct contractors in Broward are forced to pay something called "the living wage" -- $11.46 an hour -- but the airport employees here are subcontractors, so they aren't guaranteed the higher salary.

That's different in the 305, according to the Sentinel:

In Miami-Dade, subcontractors are covered by living wage, but Broward commissioners were afraid to expand their living wage ordinance because state lawmakers had living wage laws in their targets.

"This doesn't address what we really need to address,'' said Commissioner Dale Holness, "but unfortunately, our hands are tied, and this is the best we can do... I'm hoping the message will get through, by doing this, to all airlines and subcontractors that they ought to do what's right.''

You can follow Ryan Cortes on Twitter.