More than 50 Sea-Tac Airport workers are leveling serious accusations against two airline subcontractors. They claim exposure to toxic chemicals, human waste and a lack of training is causing hazardous work conditions.
The State Department of Labor and Industries is investigating the claims, with inspections starting this week. Carol Worman has been a wheelchair assistance worker for almost three years. She recalled a disturbing experience with a passenger this summer.
“He had a barf bag and was still throwing up the whole time,” said Worman.
Worman claims she isn’t given protective gloves or a mask.
“There’s always a chance I get a passenger that’s sick and I don’t know what they have,” she said.
According to Worman, she went to managers for help, but they didn’t. Instead, she had no choice but to clean her wheelchair with hand sanitizer.
“You just kind of give up. You’re tired of being told no,” said Worman.
Other abuse allegations are taking off.
“Serious violations of health, safety and wage theft at Sea-Tac airport,” said Genevieve Aguilar with Puget Sound Sage, who helped organize the event.
Organizers claim at least 70% of employees have worked overtime hours and have not been paid.
Complaints were filed by workers against Aircraft Service International Group (ASIG), Delta Global Services (DGS), BAGS,Inc, and AirServ Corporation, which subcontract for Alaska, Delta United and American Airlines.
An aircraft cabin cleaner who didn’t want to be identified because of fear of being fired said he’s only issued one pair of gloves a day.
Leon Sams refuels planes.
“At least once a day I’ll go out and something is leaking, leaking jet fuel somewhere,” he said.
“We’re basically going from paycheck to paycheck trying to live,” said Worman.
The wheelchair assistance worker says she just wants to do her job, without the baggage.
“I can’t afford to come down with something serious, that’s going to take me out of work,” she said.
Both the airline companies and their subcontractors didn’t return calls for comment.
L & I’s inspections will continue the next couple months.
If violations are found in its final report, fines could be issued.