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Airport workers claim organizing lost them their jobs

Airport subcontractor employees claim they were wrongfully fired.

Several employees of a Philadelphia International Airport subcontractor who were recently terminated believe they were targeted for trying to organize a union, and now they want their jobs back.

“Everyone who’s getting fired had something to with trying to get a union,” said Rashaun Jackson, 28. “I was terminated due to the fact that I was involved in trying to get a union. I came to all the events, the rallies and stuff that we had.”

Jackson said he was terminated last weekend from his $7.50 an hour job as a full-time cabin service agent for Prospect Airport Services, officially for “attendance.”

He acknowledged he exceeded the maximum number of disciplinary “points” for attendance, but wondered why he was fired last weekend as the union organizing ramped up, and not immediately when he passed the points limit.

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Now to get by, Jackson is looking for work, applying for unemployment and living with his mother, he said.

“I’m trying to manage the little bit of money that I do have,” he said.

Another Prospect employee, Anthony Reynolds, 51, is in a similar situation

“Once they found I was trying to get a union in here suddenly I was detriment,” said Reynolds, a cabin cleaner who earned $7.50 an hour said he was terminated last weekend as well.

“They'reruiningmy Christmas by firing me,” he said.

Reynolds was officially fired for “tardiness” but denied it was a problem, and said he hadn’t missed a day of work since July. Now he is trying to get his job back and surviving with the help of “a strong support system,” he said.

“It’s obvious that it was because of my participation,” he said. “If I was incorrigible I would have been gone long ago.”

Three weeks ago, Philly employees of another airport subcontractor, Primeflight, went on strike for one day for increased wages and the right to organize.

Jackson and Reynolds believe Prospect fired them and two other employees interested in organizing to prevent similar demands from being made.

Prospect Airport Services, based in Illinois, did not respond to requests for comment on these allegations.

On Thursday, the Prospect workers testified in City Council in support of a City Council resolution introduced by Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. to amend the city’s lease of the airport’s facilities to include language mandating “labor peace agreements” with all airlines and their subcontractors, which passed unanimously.

“We know about the problems you face at the airport,” Goode told the workers on Thursday. “We will stand fast, we will be here for you.”

The resolution passed unanimously and the new language is expected to go into effect when the airport’s lease is renewed this summer.

Meanwhile, 32BJ SEIU, a service workers’ union that is helping to organize airport workers, is filing complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on behalf of the fired Prospect workers to help get their jobs back, a spokesman confirmed.

The federal NLRB guarantees protection employees engaged in “concerted activity,” meaning they have “the right to act together to try to improve their pay and working conditions or fix job-related problems, even if they aren’t in a union,” according to the NLRB.

 
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