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Hundreds of LAX workers may walk off job

August 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
You might have a hard time getting a skycap or a wheelchair, or find planes dirty inside if hundreds of LAX workers walk off the job.Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) voted to authorize a strike on Wednesday. The SEIU represents cabin cleaners, security officers, janitors, ramp and cargo personnel and workers who provide wheelchair assistance.

These workers are employed by subcontractors, not by LAX.

Many of these workers earn about $10 an hour, and they say it's just not enough to survive in Southern California. Workers want higher wages, better job training and affordable healthcare.

"If we mess up right now, and stuff don't change, it's going to get a lot worse," said skycap Alfonzo Doty.

The union said their demands would only add about 25 cents to the cost of a plane ticket.

Negotiations have been going on since May, and the unions say the airlines need to step in.

LAX officials said any disruption in passenger service would hurt everyone, but the SEIU said the contract talks have stalled.

"The airlines are not engaged, and they're not showing any respect to these workers. There's only one thing to do," said Mike Garcia, president of the SEIU Local 1877.

The SEIU said the conditions at the airport lead to high turnover.

Both sides will head back to the bargaining table next week, and if they can't agree on a new contract, workers say they are ready to walk on the job, not only in Los Angeles, but in San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco.

 

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