© 2024 Central Florida Public Media. All Rights Reserved.
90.7 FM Orlando • 89.5 FM Ocala
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Orlando International Airport workers rally for living wage as more COVID relief goes to airports, airlines

Photo: Anjannette Reyes
Photo: Anjannette Reyes

UNITE HERE and SEIU union workers at Orlando international Airport rallied for a living wage today as airports across the country continue to receive billions in COVID relief. 

The wheelchair attendants, bag handlers and customer service representatives at the Orlando International Airport want to be protected under the Service Contract Act. 

The 56-year-old law would guarantee these workers a living wage, but Congress would have to vote to extend these protections to them. 

That’s why workers like Anjannette Reyes, a wheelchair handler at MCO, shared her story in front of Congressional members across the country on Thursday. 

Reyes is a single mom of two living in the Orlando area.

“I make $7.98 an hour plus tips. But sometimes we go home with nothing in tips or maybe just $20 dollars. I don’t have healthcare, no vacation days, no retirement or even sick days."

[audio mp3="https://www.wmfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/airport-clip-two.mp3"][/audio]

Earlier in the year, when she got hurt on the job, Reyes missed out on enough wages and tips that she had to move her family of three to another apartment.

She says that's unacceptable, especially as workers like her have been risking their lives on the daily during the COVID pandemic.

“This is America. We’re supposed to strive for better. Frontline workers like me are hurting and barely surviving. We want to be treated like human beings. We deserve sick days and healthcare. We deserve to be paid for our hard work and for our sacrifice.”

[audio mp3="https://www.wmfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/airport-clip-one.mp3"][/audio]

So far, airports around the country have received more than $8 billion dollars in federal COVID relief. 

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.