Workers contracted by private companies to handle luggage and push wheelchairs at Orlando International Airport rallied Friday for a living wage.
Each airline contracts out to private companies for its baggage handlers, wheelchair operators, airport security agents, customer service and cabin cleaners.
State Sen. Victor Torres said collective bargaining would ensure these workers get certain benefits like insurance, medical leave, and a $15 minimum wage.
“Most people say what are they complaining about? Well, guess what? Do you have all those benefits? Well, think about these workers here,” he said. “They have to work the most sometimes seven days a week.”
Orlando International Airport baggage handler Carlos Batista says right now, workers like him are making minimum wage and they don’t get to take time off unless it’s covered under workers compensation.
“We just want the right to work. To have somebody to have a voice for us. Somebody to have our backs. Nobody here has our backs,” he said.
Batista said workers would stay longer in their positions if they had these benefits as they wouldn’t need to work two or three jobs at the same time.
Workers also rallied Friday against retaliation they say they’ve faced from these companies after trying to unionize.
Orlando International Airport cabin cleaner Luis Charlin said he was contracted by Eulen America and was fired after a manager took a video of him at a union strike at the Miami International Airport in June.
His manager says he was fired because he left a bag on an airplane he was cleaning.
Charlin was only paid $10.75 at the time and didn’t have insurance. He’s now living with a relative as he looks for other work and tries to support his two children.
Eulen America could not be reached for comment at the time this story was published.
Last July, workers at Miami International Airport were granted a $15 dollar minimum wage.