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Frontline Airport Workers In New York City ‘Intensify Push For Healthy Terminals Act In Face Of Coronavirus Fears’

Published Friday, March 6, 2020
by Naeisha Rose/
Frontline Airport Workers In New York City ‘Intensify Push For Healthy Terminals Act In Face Of Coronavirus Fears’

(QUEENS, NEW YORK) - As alarm over the novel coronavirus outbreak continues, beleaguered Union-represented Airport Workers rallied earlier this week in Richmond Hill for the Healthy Terminals Act (HTA).  Introduced months ahead of the epidemic in May 2019, the HTA Legislation would give Airport Workers who are constantly on the frontlines during major pandemics quality-affordable health care, according to a spokeswoman for co-sponsor New York State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (Democrat-Bronx/Westchester). 

“We have an ‘urgent responsibility to keep these Workers healthy while they continue to protect and serve the public,’” Biaggi said. “As we speak, New York ‘is experiencing a public health outbreak and our Workers cannot wait - we must pass the Healthy Terminals Act now.’”

The HTA seeks to provide Workers with a $4.54-per-hour benefit supplement to purchase health care.

Some of the Airport Workers who work in close proximity to travelers include Wheelchair Attendants, Security, Cleaners and Passenger Service Representatives, according to 32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest Property Service Workers Union in the Nation.

Following the HTA rally, the New York Committee for Occupational Health and Safety (NYCOSH), a non-profit membership organization with more than 40 years of experience providing training, educated Airport Workers on how best to protect themselves from the virus - also known as COVID-19. 

“Our Airport Workers ‘are not only a part of the fabric of our communities, they have vital responsibilities at our critical infrastructure at the John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport,’” Councilman Donovan Richards (Democrat-Far Rockaway/Laurelton) said. “We ‘undermine every resource we pour into upgrading our airports when we neglect to care for our human capital.’”

Passenger Service Representative Vladimir Clairjeune, a 10-year veteran at JFK Airport, agreed; “Corona ‘is not the only’ disease we have to ‘worry about.’ The CDC says that if you show symptoms you should go to the doctor, but (while) ‘there are hundreds of us who work who have some’ health insurance, (there are) thousands of other Workers ‘without’ health insurance.”

Several of Clairjeune’s Co-Workers have to choose between paying premiums or paying their bills and purchasing medication. 

“My concern ‘is not just for myself, but my family and my Co-Workers’ family,’” Clairjeune said. “Diseases ‘spread and they do not encapsulate in any one particular area.’  ‘There are a lot of things transmitted from person-to-person contact.’”

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