Rosendahl, Koretz Move to Improve Airport Working Conditions

LOS ANGELES – Standing with members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and responding to concerns from airport workers regarding poor working conditions at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Los Angeles City Councilmembers Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz today urged Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and the major airlines to act quickly to avoid labor disruptions at the airport.

Rosendahl and Koretz stood with several airport workers who shared their experiences with inadequate training, poor regard for safety, and dangerous working conditions at LAX. The Councilmembers called on LAWA and the airlines to demand that their service providers adhere to a tough set of service standards, and act to ease growing labor tensions among airline service employees.

Airline service workers perform a range of critical duties including security, providing assistance to passengers with disabilities, baggage handling, airplane cabin cleaning, and other “below the wing” services.

In response to the growing frustration among these airport workers, labor organizations have planned major events at LAX in the coming weeks to coincide with Occupational Health and Safety Week and Workers Memorial Day, including a multi-day hunger fast and a series of demonstrations that will culminate in a large rally at the airport on May 1. The slogan for this year’s Workers Memorial Day is “Remember the dead – Fight for the living.”

“I understand the deep frustration of the airport workers,” said Rosendahl. “It’s clear to me that the conduct and practices of the airline service contractors are creating poor working conditions and causing these labor tensions. We need to address that problem now. I call on LAWA and the airlines to act swiftly to avoid major labor disruptions at LAX, the largest origin and destination airport in the world.”

“The airport is crucial to our regional economy and quality of life,” said Koretz. “We rely on the people who work there to provide many essential services that are key to any commuter. Those workers should have nothing less than safe and satisfactory working conditions; anything that places those workers at risk can also place the quality and safety of our airport experience at risk.”

One of the workers that addressed the City Council today was a ramp worker for Aircraft Service International Group (ASIG), Rito Preciado, who broke both of his arms after falling from a truck platform that was servicing an airplane parked at the gate. Before the accident occurred, Rito reported to a supervisor that the equipment was unsafe, but the company did not respond to the concern.

“The mechanics told me that the company had not authorized any repairs and that it was unlikely anything would change until someone got hurt,” said Preciado. “They said, ‘as long as you don’t get hurt, don’t worry about it.'”
In a move to address the concerns of the airport workers, Rosendahl and Koretz introduced a motion directing LAWA and the City Attorney to report to City Council with recommendations to strengthen and enforce the airport’s Certified Service Provider Program (CSPP). LAWA, which operates LAX, implemented the CSPP last year in an effort to enforce airline service performance standards in the areas of employee relations, employee training, safety, quality of service and contractor experience.
The two Councilmembers urged LAWA to consider adding tougher standards to the program, such as new whistleblower protections, reducing the number of contractors that operate at LAX, and providing staff with the authority to conduct audits, request additional documentation from contractors, and perform unscheduled site inspections.
Rosendahl and Koretz also threw their support behind a union proposal for a labor harmony provision that would allow for suspension or decertification of airline service providers that refuse to comply with the service standards policy, similar to a provision currently in place at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“It is absolutely fundamental that we need to have safe and appropriate working conditions at the airport: otherwise, people may be in jeopardy, and that includes workers and travelers alike,” said Koretz. “Airline service contractors need to bear responsibility for ensuring acceptable working conditions at the airport, and if they fail they should face severe consequences, certainly including potentially losing their continued right to operate at the airport.”
“This isn’t just about making sure that LAX runs smoothly,” said Rosendahl. “Workers are getting hurt out there. We need to act swiftly to provide for their safety, and for the safety of the traveling public. If an airline service contractor is not meeting our service standards then we should reconsider whether they should operate at our airport.”
In order to implement the newly proposed standards and enforcement measures under the the Certified Service Provider Program, the Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) will need to meet and approve changes to the policy. BOAC is scheduled to discuss the item next month.
The Rosendahl/Koretz motion regarding the Certified Service Provider Program has been referred to the Trade, Commerce, and Tourism Committee for further consideration.
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