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Ultimas Noticias/ 32BJ SEIU’s Fight for Fired Workers/ Airport ‘House of Horrors’

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Jim Smith/El Hispano Philadelphia – “Today we’re going to let the Philadelphia Airport know that the House of Horrors stops,” declared Daisy Cruz, Director, Mid-Atlantic District, 32BJ SEIU. Chanting “When we fight, we win,” hundreds of airport workers and their adherents called attention to the poor wages and “intimidating” treatment of Sub-contract workers at Philadelphia International and airports across the country, Thursday, as 32BJ SEIU’s Daisy Cruz led hundreds of Airport workers and their supporters in a march by bustling gates and baggage areas at Philadelphia International. “These men and women have been fighting for way too long for themselves and their families,” asserted Cruz. “We fought for these workers to get the minimum wage; and some of the workers got the minimum wage and some of them did not. That is ridiculous.” “These are cabin cleaners, these are Wheelchair-attendants and baggage handlers, who have been struggling for far too long,” continued Cruz. “They’re working in a scary situation, because from one day to another, they don’t know if they are going to have a job,” added the 32BJ Mid-Atlantic Director. “These managers and these supervisors keep intimidating them. But when workers stand up, when they have a voice and they fight for their jobs, these contractors don’t like that. They want these workers to sit back and take whatever they give them.” According to the SEIU, several workers have been terminated by Airport subcontractors -for a variety of ancillary reasons, such as taking a day off. But 32BJ SEIU and workers themselves contend the firings were directly related to their unionizing efforts. “They want to be able to work at a job that has dignity, and they want a job where they have protections,” explained Cruz. After taking a day off to care for her ill infant daughter, Qwaneisha Gather was recently fired by McGinn Security. But for Ms. Gaither, it was clearly due to her “engaging in union activities and speaking with the union.” “I believe having a union is important to everyone everywhere,” Gaither said. “I believe everyone should be treated equally.” Acknowledging that she “struggled” before finding work with McGinn, Ms. Gaither said, “I’m a very young and single mother. It’s hard to take care of my kid on minimum wage.” As she brushed aside tears, added, “My daughter is very important; my daughter really saved my life.” With Gaither unable to continue, Ms. Cruz interjected: “Qwaneisha and her daughter are not alone.” “Thousands of workers are standing up today at airports all across the country to say that they are not going to be scared anymore,” added Cruz. “And Qwaneisha, you have 32BJ SEIU behind you. And when we fight, we win.” A member of the Army National Guard and former Wheelchair Attendant at the Airport,Tom Zoker had been a vocal proponent of adopting the higher minimum wage and unionization of Wheelchair Attendants. But a few weeks ago he was fired by Prospect, purportedly for taking a day off to assist with security for the papal visit. “When I came back,” Prospect, the Wheelchair assistance company, told him he was no longer employed with the company. For the immediate future, Zoker says he is responding to this treatment as if it were “a war,” and his union allies are “like troops.” “These people are weasels with the money that you are depending on to fund your home and for your kids,” Zoker said. “And that’s got to stop. But anytime I line up with 32BJ SEIU union, I get more and more energy and more enthusiastic that something is going to change. I’m ecstatic that you guys are my battle buddies.” MAS NOTICIAS EN EDICION DIGITAL E IMPRESA.

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