Broward News

FLL Airport Workers Hit by Lightning: Why Don't They Get a Living Wage?

Tomorrow, the Broward County Commission is expected to announce its final vote on a bill that would (in addition to preventing service distruptions) improve the standards of airline and contractor workers.

This is clearly needed. Just last week at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, two workers -- one of Bags Inc., a Delta Airlines contractor and another from Eulen America -- were outside cleaning a Boeing 757 when they were jolted by a lightning strike in a nearby field. (Both were reportedly OK.)

In response, the Broward Democratic Party has adopted a resolution, urging Broward commissioners to change the pay scale for low-level airport employees, who (just like the two FLL workers) earn minimum wage and aren't afforded health care.

"Despite the frequent risk of such harrowing experiences, airport workers who are paid poverty wages keep this major travel hub running smoothly through all sorts of conditions," said Helene O'Brien, Florida district director of the Service Employees International Union.

The group also points out that baggage handlers, sky caps, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners, ramp workers, passenger assistance representatives, check-point screeners, fuelers, and security officers are all excluded from the airport's living wage law, which guarantees enough to live on.

"Broward County Commissioners can and must do better than allow airlines and their contractors to drive wages down in a race to the bottom," the Broward Democratic Party said in a statement. "Commissioners should remember those who they were elected to serve -- our families and our communities -- are counting on them to invest in good jobs. The Broward County Commission is respectfully urged to support a livable wage for workers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport."

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Ryan Cortes