PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – The airport workers union, SEIU, said employees will demand a bill of rights which will include health insurance, sick time off and fair wages at a commission meeting on Wednesday.
Fox 12 spoke with SEIU Local 49 Executive Director Maggie Long who said these workers are playing a huge role in preventing the spread of illness and they should be compensated and protected.
While basic benefits are something Long said workers have been fighting to get for years, it becomes even more important during this COVID-19 outbreak.
“Workers here are worried. Unfortunately they don’t have a lot of the things they need to best protect themselves. They've recommended that if you feel sick, to stay home. Well, if you don’t have adequate access to sick time or you can't see the doctor, you're in a really tough spot,” Long said.
Long specifically highlighted the workers who push travelers in wheelchairs-often the elderly population most vulnerable to the virus- or the workers who clean the airplane cabins are being asked to do more, Long said.
A Port of Portland spokesperson told FOX 12 they haven't seen the bill of rights yet.
They did release the following statement.
A Port of Portland spokesperson told FOX 12 they haven't seen the bill of rights yet, but did release the following statement:
“We agree: PDX employees are the heart of the airport and are essential to everyone’s experience at PDX. The health and safety of PDX employees and travelers is always our top priority, but that is especially true with the spread of coronavirus.”
A port spokesperson also said PDX is taking some extra steps, like providing updated health recommendations from local and national authorities to its employees and tenants and enhancing their cleaning efforts in all high-touch areas.
According to SEIU, airports along the coast including San Francisco and Los Angeles have already adopted a similar bill of rights to protect their workers.
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