Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Eulen Workers Go on Strike in Four Airports

Airport employees across the Eastern seaboard face some of the toughest working conditions in the country. This past June, for the first time, workers from Miami to New York staged a joint strike action.

Carmin Maffea

July 22, 2019
Facebook Twitter Share
Eulen workers at the picket line, Fort Lauderdale airport. June 27, 2019.

Workers of the airport service company, Eulen America, went on strike across the country on Thursday, June 27. In a coordinated action, workers at New York’s JFK, Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Miami International Airport (MIA), and Ronald Reagan airport in DC performed a conjoined strike to protest the abuses by their employer.

It was a one-day strike organized by 32BJ SEIU to protest working conditions and wage theft violations with the “use it or lose it” nature of the company’s paid time off (PTO) policy. Eulen is a Spanish-owned Airport company that provides a number of services, from bag handling, queue management, security and, most notably, wheelchair assistance. In JFK there are anywhere between 180-300 workers, in DC there are over 100, Fort Lauderdale 150, and Miami has the overwhelming majority at around 1,500. Altogether, Eulen employs roughly 2,000 workers, and none of the facilities are unionized.  

With the precarity and vulnerability that comes with non-unionized work, Eulen enjoys  extraordinary latitude in hiring practices and working conditions by violating specific minimum wage and vacation laws, suspending workers unfairly, and providing unsafe conditions for employees. 

Eulen workers are regularly suspended in response to absences or lateness according to a stringent disciplinary system put in place by the company. In a particular suspension case, a worker fainted and was sent home early by a manager, but it was later designated as an unjustified absence. 

The company’s paid time off (PTO) policy is one of the major grievances around which the workers rallied. The PTO policy demands that employees work to accumulate time off for both leisure and treatment of illness. In addition, it forces them to take time off at a specific point in the year—otherwise they forfeit the time they have acquired through tireless work. For example, a worker accumulates one hour of PTO for every 30 hours worked. But even if a worker manages to accrue enough hours of work to take a couple of weeks off, PTO is capped at five days a year. What a creative way to exercise further control over worker’s efforts, their time, and their lives!

Many workers have reported being unable to attend funerals of relatives because they had not accumulated enough PTO for them to go without drastically setting themselves back financially. One worker who has been affected by this is Carlos Rodríguez, who has been working at JFK Airport for several years. Recently, he was forced to miss his mother’s funeral in Guatemala because of this policy. 

Other issues faced by workers on an everyday basis include carrying luggage or pushing passengers in wheelchairs that are too heavy without the proper equipment, resulting in injuries. A worker reported that, despite Eulen employees being formally instructed to not push two chairs under any circumstances, they are often pressed to do so by their managers. Samson Lee deals with baggage handling at Miami International Airport. Last month, he injured his hands from hoisting and moving a number of bags that were 70-100 lbs each. He was still expected to work his next shift despite having sprained his wrist. These abuses have become grievances that have propelled Eulen employees to mobilize and take action to curb their management’s violations. 

Apart from these general complaints nationwide, Eulen workers face more specific issues at different airports. For example, workers in New York do not get a uniform allowance, which is mandated by the state’s minimum wage laws—legal protections that do not apply to workers in Florida. Understanding the need to take real action in solidarity, workers from up and down the eastern seaboard rallied around their various grievances. 

Although the company has shown a refusal to implement the workers’ demands, this display of unified action is a first step in strengthening the workers’ morale and building workers’ solidarity. They understand the effects of collective worker action and the power of withholding their labor, and can now build on this golden experience to continue their fight in the overall battle that is class struggle. 

Facebook Twitter Share

Carmin Maffea

Carmin is a revolutionary socialist from New York.

Labor Movement

Protesters in France in January 2022.

What’s Next for French Workers After Thursday’s National Mobilization?

Yesterday, a coalition of unions held a national strike day over wages and jobs. Despite the deep anger among French education workers that crystallized two weeks ago, and local conflicts over wages, participation was limited. As union leaders meet to consider next steps, what conclusions can be drawn so far?

Antoine Bordas

January 28, 2022

One Year Later: Biden Is Still No Friend of Labor

Joe Biden claims to be one of the most pro-labor presidents to ever hold office, but while he has talked a good game, he has conspicuously failed to deliver for working people and unions. Worse, Biden’s embrace of labor was and remains a cynical, and so far highly successful, attempt to co-opt and further tie unions to the Democratic Party.

James Dennis Hoff

January 21, 2022

CUNY Rank-and-File Activists Fight for Safe Reopening

At the City University of New York (CUNY) tens of thousands of students are petitioning for more online classes, and in-person sections are getting canceled left and right due to low enrollment, leading dozens of part-time faculty to lose their jobs. Dissatisfied with the union leadership’s response, rank-and-file union members are taking matters into their own hands.

Left Voice

January 21, 2022

Mine Workers in Peru Protest Over Covid-19 Infections

Faced with the inaction of the Ministry of Labor, mine workers in Peru staged a massive protest on Tuesday demanding that Anglo American mining company cover quarantine expenses for those infected with Covid-19 caused in the mining camps.

MOST RECENT

The Fed Will Raise Interest Rates “Soon.” The Capitalists — and Democrats — Are Very Nervous

The Federal Reserve announced today that it would “soon” be raising interest rates — probably in March — in an effort to stem inflation, which has hit its highest levels in the United States since 1982. The Democrats are desperate to keep inflation from becoming an issue in the midterm elections.

Scott Cooper

January 26, 2022

Military Coup in Burkina Faso Is a Preemptive Strike Against Continuing Social Unrest

After a night of army mutiny in the west African country of Burkina Faso, soldiers on Monday, January 24, arrested the president and several government ministers in a coup d’état.

Israel Continues Its Violent Displacement of Palestinians

2022 brings another year of Israeli violence against Palestinians. Solidarity with the movement to free Palestine from Zionist occupation must remain a priority of the Left.

Sam Carliner

January 26, 2022

No to Imperialist War: Ukrainians Gain Nothing from U.S., NATO, or Russian Troops

The situation on the Ukraine-Russia border is growing hotter and hotter, with the possibility of war becoming greater with each passing day — especially as U.S. imperialism and NATO have now decided to up the ante and mobilize their own forces. The reactionary objectives of both sides are coming into much sharper focus.

Scott Cooper

January 25, 2022