America Airlines – MIA Airport Workers Pressured to Come to Work Sick
As airline journey picks up this vacation season after a pandemic-induced lull, subcontracted employees at Miami Worldwide Airport (MIA) say their employer’s lack of well being precautions might trigger passengers to turn out to be sick amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Workers of Eulen America, a contractor that gives safety and cabin-cleaning companies for airways like American Airlines and Delta, say that owing to mass layoffs this summer season, they have been pressured to come back into work sick. Additionally they say they have not been notified when their coworkers have examined constructive for COVID-19 and that they’ve had to purchase their very own facemasks and gloves for defense.
Hugo Dongo says he labored as a safety guard for Eulen at MIA for practically ten years till he was fired final week for complaining about unsafe situations and making an attempt to unionize his coworkers. Dongo tells New Occasions in Spanish that a number of of his coworkers got here in to work with potential signs of COVID-19, together with fevers and physique aches, as a result of there aren’t all the time sufficient workers to cowl shifts.
“If we had signs, the corporate informed us we needed to discover a substitute or else we needed to are available in. If we did not discover a substitute and did not are available in, they informed us we would face penalties,” Dongo says.
In an emailed assertion, a spokesperson for Eulen informed New Occasions the corporate encourages workers to remain residence in the event that they’re feeling unwell and solely asks that sick workers notify their managers as quickly as doable so the corporate could make preparations.
However Dongo says workers typically really feel pressured by their managers to seek out somebody to cowl for them, and a few find yourself reporting to work if they cannot discover a substitute. Certainly one of Dongo’s coworkers, Reinaldo Gutierrez Carnet, tells New Occasions in Spanish that he needed to argue with administration sooner or later when he was extraordinarily unwell simply to steer them to offer him a single day without work.
Gutierrez Carnet was additionally fired final week. Though Eulen has not given him an official rationalization for his termination after 18 years of service, a supervisor informed him it was as a result of he was complaining about Eulen’s issues to a former coworker who was lately fired.
Dongo says he knew a number of coworkers who examined constructive for COVID-19, however the firm did not alert the workers to the documented diseases. Workers needed to discover out via the grapevine who was sick and who wasn’t, leaving many fearful for his or her well being, Dongo says.
“Individuals have been getting sick, and we’d solely hear it from one another. We had to determine for ourselves who that they had contact with, as a result of they received COVID-19 and we weren’t informed,” he says.
Dongo, who lives along with his 93-year-old mom, says he went via an in depth disinfection protocol when he received residence from work every day with a view to maintain his mom secure. With the excessive threat of contracting COVID-19 whereas working at MIA, Dongo felt endangered and anxious for the aged lady’s well being.
Dongo and Gutierrez Carnet imagine Eulen’s lack of precautions for its employees places airline passengers in danger as a result of safety guards are sometimes the primary individuals vacationers encounter after they land.
“When a airplane is available in, we now have to be there on the door. We get the primary whiff of air that comes out, and all these people who come via the airplane — we’re proper there in entrance of them,” says Gutierrez Carnet. “Some individuals get near us and ask us questions, so we’re involved with individuals all day.”
Eulen’s layoffs may be affecting employee and passenger security, as properly. One cabin cleaner employed by Eulen, who requested New Occasions to not use his identify as a result of he fears dropping his job, says that with fewer individuals to wash the planes, the remaining employees should do twice the quantity of labor for a similar pay.
Cabin cleaners are typically given only some minutes to wash and disinfect a airplane after they want no less than an hour to do a radical cleansing, the worker says. Regardless of American Airlines‘ assurance that high-contact areas like tray tables and seatbelt buckles are cleaned prior to every flight, the worker says that at MIA, cabin cleaners typically solely have sufficient time to select up trash within the bogs and walkways.
In Eulen’s assertion to New Occasions, the corporate mentioned it offers workers with enough coaching and PPE whereas on the job. However the workers say the masks the corporate offers are small and are not meant for use long-term. The gloves are so skinny, the cabin cleaner says, that workers do not hassle with them. Cabin cleaners have begun utilizing gloves meant for crew members, or else threat touching bodily fluids with their naked arms.
“The corporate has by no means taken any actual motion with regard to the virus,” Gutierrez Carnet says. “It is all concerning the cash for them.”
Eulen has beforehand come underneath fireplace for quite a few office points, together with a quotation by the Occupational Security and Well being Administration (OSHA) in November 2019 for well being and security violations, together with exposing workers to blood-borne pathogens.
After quite a lot of Eulen workers at MIA have been laid off this previous summer season, employees gathered with the Service Workers Worldwide Union (SEIU) Native 32BJ to show towards Eulen in a caravan protest.
Ana Tinsly, a spokesperson for SEIU 32BJ, tells New Occasions that though the union does not formally symbolize the Eulen workers at MIA, it’s calling on the corporate to rehire employees who have been laid off to alleviate the strain on the remaining safety guards and cleaners. The union can also be calling on Miami-Dade County to look at Eulen’s document of security violations and employees’ rights points and to think about dropping its contract. (The county oversees contractors at MIA.)
“We’re asking that the county have accountable contractors appearing on the airport. We’d like these firms on the airport to function responsibly and make sure that employees who’re talking out can achieve this with out retaliation,” Tinsly says.
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