LaGuardia Airport Workers Strike Over Ebola Fears

Cabin cleaners at LaGuardia Airport fear Ebola exposure, strike for safer working conditions.

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On 8 October 2014 airline cabin cleaners at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport began a 24-hour strike citing concerns over exposure to the Ebola virus. The Associated Press reported that approximately 200 Air Serv workers engaged in the 24-hour pickets, whereas the New York Post said the number was between 100 and 200.

The cabin cleaners who protested service domestic flights at LaGuardia’s Terminal D. The AP said that Ebola concerns are only part of a larger effort by the workers to unionize and improve working conditions overall:


The workers, who are seeking to unionize, say they’re sometimes exposed to blood, feces, vomit and even chemicals while on the job, but are not equipped with appropriate protective gear.

They say the number of cabin cleaners per job has been reduced by up to half. They also say the time to clean entire planes has been cut from 45 minutes to as little as 5 minutes.


 

The Washington Post quoted Alberto Grant, Jr., a cleaner at neighboring John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Grant said that workers are often ill-equipped to safely handle potentially hazardous clean ups:


When we clean the bathrooms, we are exposed to everything, so we definitely need this training. In the past contractors have told us just to wash our hands and use gloves. Cleaning kits aren’t readily available to protect against the various bodily fluids we encounter every day. Sometimes all we have are paper towels to wipe down the bathrooms.

 

In a statement issued in response to the strike, New York City’s Port Authority said:


The Port Authority has agreed to review the concerns raised today by AirServ’s cleaning personnel at LaGuardia Airport and is pleased they will be returning to their jobs.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for cabin cleaning procedures to prevent Ebola which include the use of gloves, protective eyewear, gowns, masks, and shoe covers.

Last updated:   9 October 2014