Strike highlights labor shortages at Denver International Airport – CBS Denver
DENVER (CBS4) – “Too much to do,” said Abebe Negatu, a striking concierge worker.
He was among those who joined the picket line at Denver International Airport on Friday to push for more hiring and more wages by contractor Flagship, which provides janitorial services.
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Work can be dirty and during the pandemic scary.
âThe plastic on the garbage bags, it rips and the fluid on our clothes, our bodies,â Negatu said of the overcrowded garbage cans.
Workers are being asked to do more, all for $ 16.43 an hour.
“We are doing two areas because this salary is very low, so the employees do not come to this company,” said striker Acef Canga.
Workers at Service Employees International Union Local 105 agreed to return to work on Saturday without any deal reached with the company, hoping a deal will be reached next week.
The airport has been hit by labor shortages on many fronts.
âWe are all trying to strengthen our staff. We’re making sure that people don’t have to wait in that long line that they might encounter now, âsaid spokesperson Alex Renteria.
Airlines are also experiencing shortages, which means delays. Paul Gulisano was hit by a delay on Friday as his plane was ready to take off for Denver.
“They let us know that due to personnel and air traffic control personnel issues, we had to sit on the runway for about an hour and 20 minutes or so.”
TSA says it has been able to “leverage national staff resources to complement our local workforce,” spokeswoman Laurie Dankers said.
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But there are other shortages at DIA. Two shuttle lots remain closed in the event of a shortage of shuttle drivers. Concessions cannot remain open.
âWe have asked our passengers to be patient with you, some of our dealership hours have changed due to personnel issues,â Renteria said.
Around 30,000 people work at DIA. Currently, there are approximately 1,500 unfilled jobs.
Hiring at the airport means additional challenges.
âI think a lot of different things can be a factor, distance could be a factor,â Renteria said.
Some employers offer transit passes to help workers get in. It also takes time in the worker’s day.
âI am from Central Park. I need an hour and a half to get here.
Jobs can also mean requirements to be fulfilled.
âIt also comes with a security (requirement) so it takes a bit longer to get hired at the airport because you need to get security clearance,â Renteria said.
âThere are personnel issues everywhere,â observed Gulisano.
However, the airport is catching up with rising wages in many categories. DIA hosted a job fair this week with 50 employers looking for people. Some of the janitors have been at the airport for over a decade in the same job. Acef Canga has been with DIA for years.
âI want to work here. I have a job outside here but I like to cleanâ¦ I clean everything. All. I disinfect everything for the passengers.
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She hopes for a salary over $ 20 an hour.