Ebola Strike: LaGuardia Airport Workers Walk Off The Job

An Ebola strike began at LaGuardia Airport in New York City over fears of contracting the deadly virus. The airport workers strike currently involves only Terminal D workers, but air travel could still be impacted by the walk-off and protests.

The AirServ company includes thousands of workers at five major United States airports. Representatives from the company told the media that LaGuardia Terminal D workers initiated the Ebola strike due to “documented health and safety violations.” Related complaints have also been filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA.

Ebola has become a particular concern for the LaGuardia Terminal D workers because they reportedly deal with bodily fluids without proper gear. Approximately 200 airline cabin cleaners walked off the job overnight and began carrying signs in protest. AirServ workers told the media that they often encounter vomit, blood, and hypodermic needles while cleaning planes after a flight.

“I have to deal with vomit, feces and a lot of chemical without proper equipment. They give us gloves, but they might as well be made out of paper because they rip so easily,” Ebola strike participant Johanna Cruz, told the New York Daily News.

The LaGuardia Terminal D workers also claim they are given “little to no” training on proper disposal of bodily fluids techniques, and that their requests for better equipment have gone unanswered.

The Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ was reportedly scheduled to conduct an infectious disease training for airport cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants, and terminal cleaners today.

“The training will cover current guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Air Transport Association – IATA,” a release from the union reads. “This includes guidelines for cleaning airplane cabins and lavatories, for cleaning an area with possible Ebola exposure, and for determining which equipment employers are required to supply.”

JFK Airport, along with four other major U.S. airports, are scheduled to initiate “additional screening” for Ebola today. The process was designed as a means to detect passengers traveling from West Africa with Ebola. While the CDC continues to maintain that restricting travel from the Ebola outbreak region will not prevent the spread of the deadly virus, not everyone agrees. Supporters of air travel restrictions have stated that medical aid flights could be allowed with a quarantine period initiated before re-entry into America. The passports of all passengers should also be checked before people are allowed on an airplane destined for the United States. These steps would ultimately help prevent an Ebola pandemic.

What do you think about the LaGuardia Ebola strike? Should air travel from West Africa be restricted to prevent a global Ebola pandemic?

[Image via: ABC News]