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Swine Flu Outbreak Updates: 01-May-09: Service Employees International Union

Service Employees International Union and United Service Workers members held (29-Apr-09) a rally at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), expressing concern over the lack of health procedures for airport workers at risk of exposure to the swine flu.

Over one hundred airport workers and supporters held a march and rally at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at noon on 29-Apr. Worker anger over the lack of quality health care has come to a head as concerns about swine flu have mounted. Coalition members and service workers donned surgical masks emblazoned with the slogan "I Need Healthcare" and marched through the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Workers say that their contact with thousands of travelers every day puts them at risk for exposure to contagious illnesses. Yet the vast majority of workers do not have health care coverage for themselves or their family members.

A service worker at the airport, Julio Topete said, "Masks and hand sanitizers are not enough. Too many of us airline service workers have no health care coverage. If I get sick I have no good way to know what I have and to do anything about it."

Workers signed a petition calling on the City of Los Angeles to set standards for airport employers to ensure family healthcare for all airport workers.

A forthcoming Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) study show that an estimated 5,100 LAX workers and their family members lack employer-provided healthcare. Roughly 2,000 receive taxpayer-funded care; fully 3,100 people have no healthcare at all.

A LAX service worker, Claudia Deleon said, "I'm really worried. We work around thousands of people who come through the airport every day. But, what do I do if I get sick or my family members get sick? With my pay, I can't afford the healthcare plan offered by my employer."

"Swine flu is just one example of the dangers these workers face on the job. The airlines have not made sure that their contracted employees have healthcare benefits, so we are calling on the City of Los Angeles to raise standards to make sure airport workers have family healthcare."

The Reaching Higher for Healthcare Coalition is a growing coalition of workers, healthcare professionals and organizations, clergy and community groups committed to raising standards for airport workers and passengers at California's top airports.