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Airplane cleaners protest firing

Logan airport.Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Dozens of workers at Logan Airport protested Thursday the firing of an airplane cleaner who said he was terminated because he favored unionization.

The former employee, Jose Candelario, a 20-year-old from Chelsea, said ReadyJet, an airplane cleaning company, fired him last New Year’s Eve, shortly after he publicly complained that the company was targeting workers who were trying to unionize. He had worked as a cleaner for the company for about 16 months.

Candelario, a native Spanish speaker, has yet to find another job He said the company told him he was fired because he called in sick on Christmas Eve, but he is convinced it is because he complained about the shoddy treatment of he and his fellow employees and because he supported unionization.

He has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

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“I would encourage all the employees to file complaints because this is continuing to happen – the people that are standing up are getting fired,” Candelario said through an interpreter.

The SEIU has maintained that the company has systemically fired those who engage in lawful union organizing activities. That union says ReadyJet has fired nearly one third of its work force – around 70 people – since January of this year.

“ReadyJet and its employer JetBlue should know that retaliatory firings of union supporters are incompatible with the kind of workplace Logan Airport should be,” said Roxana Rivera, 32BJ SEIU District Director through a statement. “If airports are to fulfill their role of being the region’s economic engine, it is essential to ensure that workers’ rights are respected and communities benefit directly through improved working conditions.”

At a mid-December protest, ReadyJet workers, who are not unionized, and labor union representatives wanted various airlines including JetBlue, Delta and US Airways to hold the company accountable for its treatment of workers. They complained of lack of proper safety equipment and said they wanted higher wages.

ReadyJet did not return Metro’s requests for comment Thursday.

 
 
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