My name is Samatar Abdullahi. I came to Seattle from Somalia in 1999 to be with my family, including my four grandchildren.
For nearly nine years, I have workers for the contractor DGS, cleaning the cabins of Alaska Airlines planes. In three of those years, I was given commendations for exceptional service. So I was shocked that when I asked to take paid time off to tend to my daughter after her surgery, DGS refused. Even with a note from her doctor, the supervisor would not let me have even a few paid days off.
My name is Gary Yancey; I’ve been working at Sea-Tac airport for 14 years. My job is to fuel the planes, including the planes of Alaska Airlines. It is a hard and dangerous job hauling nearly 100lbs of hose, fuel and nozzles up and down the ladders to reach the plane. The job is made even more difficult by faulty equipment. Every day, the Jet A Fuel leaks from broken nozzles onto my clothes, face and hands. My father worked daily in conditions similar to these and passed away far too soon as a result. I’m one year away from the age my father was when I lost him. I live in fear that I’m walking the same path that he did.
My name is Idil Darar. I came to Seattle from Somalia with my mom. To help support my mom, I went to work the graveyard shift at the airport cleaning aircraft cabins. I worked cleaning cabins for DGS for more than two years.
I was a good employee, all the time praised for my work, and I was promoted. It is against the rule for the cleaning crew to go onto a plane without electrical power. But once I was called to clean an extra aircraft that had no power. Both the supervisor and the manager insisted that we must finish the aircraft. They held flashlights while we cleaned the cabin. Sometimes security hides knives or other items beneath the seat or in the trash to check if we are doing a complete job. How can we be sure that we have found these hidden things when we are asked to clean by flashlight? As Auditor, it was my job to sign off that everything was done correctly. I refused and reported it to Human Resources. I was crying.
I told them, “I can’t win this fight because the supervisors and managers are more powerful than me.” My supervisor threatened me. He said if I got fired, I wouldn’t get another job in my life.
My name is Tatyana. I am from Ukraine, and like a majority of the workers at Sea-Tac Airport, an immigrant that came to Seattle to make a better life.
I work hard. For the past 5 years, I have cleaned aircraft cabins as an employee of Delta Global Services (DGS). I earn $10.39 an hour. This is not enough to survive.
I am unable to afford health benefits. So in order to see a doctor, we pay $50/year to get our flight benefits and fly back home to Ukraine. If I actually used my DGS health benefits, I would have to pay nearly a quarter of my salary. So it is cheaper for me or other workers to fly across the world to take care of even minor medical problems. And now it is worse because our vacation days have been reduced to only 5 days per year so it is not even enough time to fly home.
I work for an American company. I should not have to fly to the Ukraine to get my healthcare. DGS should give us affordable health benefits. That is why I’m standing up with my co-workers and other workers at the airport. The time has come to stand for a better future by staying united and making our voices heard.
Alex Popescu, Sea-Tac worker:
After serving in the U.S. Marines for 12 years honorably, including combat tours in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and three tours in Iraq, despite my qualifications and ability, I have been reduced to working for just above minimum wage. As a disabled veteran I feel that after serving and sacrificing for so long, it’s appalling that I have to choose between filling my gas tank or feeding my family. They have also suffered through all the deployments. They have no healthcare because I have to pay an outrageous rate for it at work. I am tired of being treated like I’m not important.