Los Angeles International Airport officials Monday advised people heading to the airport on Wednesday to expect a longer-than-usual drive, thanks to a planned union march on Century Boulevard.
While airport officials have been advising people to arrive two hours in advance of domestic flights and three hours before international flights, they recommended that people planning to drive to LAX between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. today add about 90 minutes to their anticipated travel time.
Members of the Service Employees International Union are planning to march on Century Boulevard for about three hours to protest what the union calls unfair labor practices by an airport contractor, Aviation Safeguards.
SEIU has had a troubled track record at LAX in recent years. Another contractor, Calop Aeroground Services, decertified the SEIU in 2010. A federal judge rejected SEIU’s challenge to the decertification process.
“Several more contracts, with other companies, are due to expire on November 30,” said Ashley Atkinson, a dispatcher at Aviation Safeguards. “Wednesday’s planned demonstration is designed to pressure contractors at LAX to sign SEIU agreements instead of letting workers choose. That’s not democracy. It’s the same old bullying.”
Atkinson points out that employees at Aviation Safeguards immediately started taking home significantly more pay after the departure of SEIU. Collectively, it is estimated the employees will take home more than $2 million more a year in wages than they did while being represented by the union. As a result, the company will also pay $300,000 more per year in state and federal payroll taxes.
“It’s really outrageous that the SEIU says things that just aren’t true,” said Sherly Varela, a screener at Aviation Safeguards since 2008. “They say that our company doesn’t comply with the City’s Living Wage Ordinance even though the documentation is there to prove them wrong. The union just didn’t pay any attention to us.” Employees at Aviation Safeguards want to assure the public that operations at the terminals where they work will be fully staffed if the protest proceeds. According to Jennifer Garcia, “We just wish the union and all the other outsiders would leave us alone, leave the travelers alone, and let us do our work.”
According to the union, about 400 airport workers were left without a contract earlier this year when Aviation Safeguards, a division of Command Security Corp. of Parsippany, N.J., terminated union contracts and withdrew all health insurance.
Airport officials said the planned march will result in phased closures of westbound Century Boulevard between Airport and Sepulveda boulevards, and northbound Sepulveda between Imperial Highway and 98th Street.
All entrances to the airport's Central Terminal Area are expected to remain open, but motorists on westbound Century Boulevard could be diverted to northbound Airport Boulevard, then west on 98th Street, north on Vicksburg Avenue over the 96th Street Bridge and into the terminal area.
Motorists were advised to avoid the intersection of Century and Airport boulevards.
SEIU represents janitors, wheelchair attendants, skycaps, security guards and other service workers at LAX.