Responding to two years of worker unrest at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the county is bracing for a possible work stoppage.
On a lengthy County Commission agenda for Tuesday is an item that would help the county avoid a disruption in services at the airport, caused by employees. It threatens to revoke the contract of companies whose services to the public are interrupted "as a result of the disruption of work by a contractor’s or subcontractor’s employees.''
To be clear, the aforementioned unrest does not involve pilots, flight attendants or people at the ticket counters or rental car offices. The employees who have been complaining are lower-level service workers who handle baggage, push travelers in wheelchairs, and clean the airport. Click here for a memory refresher.
The employees have been complaining, rallying, protesting and lobbying for help from commissioners for two years, according to an SEIU32BJ spokeswoman. The county visitor log shows SEIU reps were lobbying in the County Commission offices last week. They also have a Facebook page, "Justice for Fort Lauderdale Airport Workers.'' Here is one of its posts:
"Fort Lauderdale Airport workers in Broward County are a shameful example of our nation's income inequality crisis and it's one that is felt in disproportionately by black Caribbean immigrants and African-Americans."
County commissioners have not been able to raise the employees' wages, their key issue, but they did help them get a break room and emphasized their right to conduct union activities. The SEIU 32BJ has been trying to organize the workers.
For Mother's Day, the SEIU sent county commissioners flowers with a card that read:
“As you celebrate Mother's Day, please consider the mothers who work tirelessly to assist passengers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and keep FLL running smooth. All we want for Mother's Day is to be better able to provide for our families. We hope that you will keep mothers' best interests to heart this session.”
(The gift would have to be refused if SEIU is doing business with the county in any fashion.)
The resolution for Tuesday says the county "gains significant revenue from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport ... and smooth and continuous operation of airport services is
important to the viability and growth of the airport.''
It also says the county "has proprietary interest in ensuring that airport services are not disrupted because such disruption would disserve the public and would be expected to result in substantial loss of airport revenue.''
The staff summary of the item says this: The Broward County Board of County Commissioners (the “Board”) has a proprietary interest in ensuring the safe, secure, seamless and efficient operations at the Airport. High levels of worker turnover, inconsistent and insufficient training, and employee unrest all threaten to undermine the furtherance of this interest. Given the critical infrastructure of the Airport, and the impact of service workers on security, public health, and passenger satisfaction with the Airport, the Board has an interest in establishing that airline service providers ensure uninterrupted services at the Airport. The adoption of this Resolution will prevent disruptions at the Airport due to labor unrest.