Emboldened by the newly elected District 5 commissioner, airport workers gathered in Downtown Miami with hopes the county will enact policies addressing their needs.
Eileen Higgins was sworn in on July 10, beating Zoraida Barrerio by six points.
“It is very important to the workers [to have Commissioner Higgins sworn in]. We fight for ourselves, and we need someone to help us,” said Nirva Blaise, member of Service Employees International Union 32BJ and an airport worker for almost 20 years.
Tracy Philias, a member of union Unite Here Local 355, said progress is finally being made.
“We are proud of Eileen. We are proud of the work that she will be doing, and we just want changes to be made in Miami-Dade,” said Philias.
The Miami-Dade County Commission approved a proposal Tuesday that would extend the county’s living wage ordinance to Miami International Airport concession workers, according to WLRN.
Airport workers are also hopeful a policy that would provide further protections will be approved by the county.
The MIA Worker Retention Policy would ensure workers will not be replaced when an airline changes its service contractor. Airline workers have been campaigning hard for this policy, by collecting signatures in support of their policy and meeting with county commissioners.
District 8 Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava will be presenting the policy July 24 to the Miami-Dade County Commission.
“We are confident that this will pass because it is common sense legislation,” said Helene O’Brien, Florida Director for 32BJ SEIU. “Worker retention protects workers, but it also increases stability in the workforce, which increases security at the airport. It’s good policy for employees, the passengers, and public safety.”
Carlos Cabaloero, who has worked at the airport for five years, said he is ready for a change.
“We fight to live, not survive,” said Cabaloero.