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LAX Workers Begin Hunger Strike To Protest Alleged Wage Thefts And No Breaks

LAX (Photo by Marc Evans via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Workers at LAX are fasting this week in protest claiming that their employers are stealing wages and withholding breaks. It seems that air traffic controllers aren't the only employees at LAX feeling overworked and exhausted. Beginning today, nearly a dozen cabin cleaners, attendants and other workers at LAX will consume only liquids for a three-day hunger strike to protest their grievances, reports CBS L.A. The protesting group consists of employees of two airport contractors—Aviation Safeguards and Scientific Concepts—who work at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at the airport. According to Tim Maddox, executive board member of SEIU-USWW, a union that represents many of the workers at LAX, the two companies are refusing to negotiate union contracts and “are violating workers rights, whether it be about breaks, [or] stolen break money.”

The protesters intend to spend most of their time fasting at the airport during to time leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, and will sleep at a nearby church, according to City News Service.

Maddox—who works as a wheelchair attendant at LAX—explains to CBS L.A., “We want responsible contractors, people that are going to do the right thing by the workers and by the public.” He also argues that short-staffed cabin crew workers are under increasing pressure to clean planes more quickly because an increase in scheduled flights are requiring faster turnarounds.

In a statement, the SEIU-USWW claims that Scientific Concepts has been fined $963,000 for wage theft by the state labor standards enforcement department, but still has a license to operate at LAX. They also say that Aviation Safeguards refuses to enter into union contracts with employees.