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Wheelchair Attendants Strike at FLL Airport Over Low Wages, Poor Benefits

G2 Security Staff make $8.05 an hour plus tips, with limited benefits. And the wheelchair attendants who work these jobs are protesting what they call "poverty wages" at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Tuesday. 

According to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), about 50 workers planned an all-day strike to protest their low wages and federal labor law violations they say have been committed by G2 Secure Staff, which services Southwest and Virgin America Airlines. 

"We are on strike because we can't survive on what G2 is giving us," said G2 employee Nadege Cantave, in an email statement to New Times. "It's hard to feed the kids, and we don't have enough to pay for rent."

Cantave, who is a mother of four, says her family has had its electricity shut off multiple times even though she and her husband work for G2. Cantave is a wheelchair attendant, and her husband a skycap who earns $5.03 plus tips. 

Workers say that G2 violated their rights when they suspended workers in retaliation for exercising their rights to collective action and interfered with its employees’ right to support their union and speak out about problems in the workplace, according to the National Labor Relations Board. 

The wheelchair attendants have an all-day strike planned, beginning with a march outside Broward County Government Building, a rally and worker picket line at the G2 office inside the airport, and wrapping things up with a silent march through the airport that ends at terminal 1.

The difference in what these G2 staffers who work at Fort Lauderdale International and other workers is significant. Other employees at the airport make up to $13.20 and hour, while G2 staffers at Miami International Airport make up to $14.27 an hour.

The SEIU also points out that FLL workers have to rely on tips much more than those who work for G2 at MIA. The result is a higher turnover among workers, which leads to what they say is an inexperienced workforce who are not properly prepared t handle airport safety procedures.

The Fort Lauderdale workers are demanding to be compensated the same as their counterparts over at MIA.

"The workers at Ft. Lauderdale airport do a community service in their handling and care of our wheelchair bound citizens," said Ronald Fulton of the Disability Caucus of Miami in a press release. "Respect for their work directly translates to respect for the disabled, which is why I stand with them."

In May, Broward County Commissioners introduced a bill to extend the County's Living Wage ordinance to include over 1,200 passenger service workers at FLL who earn an average of $8.14 per hour, which is significantly below the federal poverty line. But the commissioners have failed to come through and enact the bill, the SEIU says. 

"As airlines make record-breaking profits (as much as $2.8 billion per year), and take advantage of FLL's cheap costs (one of the lowest in the nation), Broward taxpayers pay airlines an indirect subsidy because their poverty wages leave workers reliant on public assistance," the SEIU said in a press release. "For over two years, airline-contracted workers at FLL have been organizing for higher wages and better treatment on the job."
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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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