Fired JFK Airport workers are demanding access to their personal records after being terminated by Eulen America — an aviation contractor that has been providing support staff for airports throughout the nation since 1994.
Eulen America is, in fact, a principal passenger contractor for American Airlines.
The airport workers contend that they were unjustly fired after arguing with a TSA worker —and insist there is video footage of the actual altercation. According to the trio, the real reason they were let go has everything to do with being vocal about workplaces issues at Eulen America and wanting to unionize with 32BJ SEIU.
“I had an incident with a TSA worker and I reported it,” Patricia Jones, a former wheelchair agent for Eulen America, said last week. “I was talking to my planner and she told me to report it to the TSA supervisor. But, instead, I was only able to get in touch with the TSA manager.”
Jones, who is responsible for transporting clients around the airport and safeguarding their luggage, said that the TSA worker had “bothered” her before.
“That night I was trying to get a passenger’s luggage off the belt and the TSA worker was standing in front of me,” Jones said. “I did not say anything to her and she kept putting other passengers towards me.”
According to Jones, she asked the TSA agent to wait until she was able t pick up her passenger’s luggage.
“But she kept putting things on, so I didn’t say anything,” Jones added. “[But] my passenger said she left a white sweater behind. So, when her white sweater came out of the bin, the TSA worker slammed it into another bin — and me and her exchanged words. Then she told me, ‘Why don’t you go back to your country?’”
The ugly incident occurred this past month, according to Jones
“She said that all people like you will ever do is push wheelchairs,” Jones continued. “I told her ,I love my job and I left — then I called my planner who told me to call the TSA supervisor.”
Jones eventually met with the supervisor for TSA two days after the incident — and she also sent an email to two Eulen America supervisors. When she arrived at work on November. 12, Jones was sent to a room with her planner.
“She said that she got an email from TSA and American Airlines — so, she had to let me go,” Jones said. “She said I shouldn’t say anything bad about TSA…that is a federal worker and I should have gone about doing my business.”
When TSA workers were allegedly hostile to the workers of Eulen, the wheelchair agents did not get any support from their employer. That, along with several others issues at the company, is why Jones has spent most of the year trying to organize her fellow co-workers.
“We try to unionize at Eulen because they don’t treat their workers right,” Jones said. “I hope that they change — I hope they give the workers what they need; that they give the workers vacation; that they give workers better pay; that the workers get a break and that they get the money for their uniforms — because that is the law and that is what they deserve.”
Councilwoman Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) is backing the fired Eulen America workers.
“We must ensure all workers are treated with dignity and that labor laws aren’t being violated,” Council Member Adams said. “Retaliation against hard working employees that had the courage to demand justice should not be tolerated. I stand with the hard-working Eulen employees. Eulen is not above the law.”
Both American Airlines and Eulen America declined to comment on this story.