LAX workers protest planned cuts to health care benefits

More than 200 LAX employees plan to protest today at the L.A. airport.
More than 200 LAX employees plan to protest today at the L.A. airport.
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Union workers Monday marched with picket signs and drums at Los Angeles International Airport. They maintain that the contractor they work for is about to eliminate their health care benefits.

The Service Employees International Union that represents airport service workers organized the protest. Dozens of demonstrators, including security personnel, baggage handlers and people who coordinate and handle wheelchairs for passengers, formed two picket lines and rallied throughout the upper terminal buildings.

Naomi Stone of L.A. was checking in at a self-service kiosk in Terminal 7 when an demonstrator handed her a green flyer that explained the issue.

The passenger seemed to appreciate the information. “This is great. Definitely brings attention to it because I had no idea about it until just now.”

Airport workers say contractor Aviation Safeguards recently informed them that the company planned to eliminate health care benefits on the first of next month.

Airport dispatcher Jennifer Mendoza has worked at LAX for five years. She expects to give birth to a baby boy in a couple of months.

Mendoza said she’s upset that the employer sent news about ending her health care benefits in a letter.

“Seeing my situation," Mendoza said, "they should have personally came and talked and said 'hey, let’s see what we can work out. What is it that you need?'"

Mendoza also appeared in a video promoted on Good Jobs L.A.'s website:

Aviation Safeguards' clients at the airport reportedly include Virgin Atlantic, United Continental, Air France and Alaska. Protesters say those airlines reported more than $2.5 billion in net profits last year.

“Aviation Safeguards is leading a race to the bottom by the greediest 1 percent at LAX to make even bigger profits by breaking agreements with workers and taking away health care," said Mike Garcia, president of SEIU, the union that represents the protesters.

Aviation Safeguards couldn't be reached for comment.

This story has been updated.