Airport workers vulnerable as virus spreads

Posted at 5:58 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 17:59:16-04

EAST ELMHURST, Queens — As concerns of coronavirus spread, airport workers are looking for some security in the form of health insurance.

Thousands of workers at New York’s three main airports are fighting for a bill that would give them insurance- without having to pay hundreds of dollars of out pocket.

According to the Service Employees International Union there are 40,000 airport employees between LaGuardia, JFK and Newark, many who are working without insurance because they can’t afford the payments.

On top of that, they’re surrounded by travelers every day, in the midst of a coronavirus crisis.

Dan Davis is a cabin cleaner at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He started working at JFK three months ago, after recovering from a double organ transplant, cleaning up after people from around the globe puts his already compromised health at risk. COVID-19 only adds to his fears.

"My immune system is below one percent by design. If it's any higher it will attack the organs that don't belong to me," said Davis.

Davis joins other Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members in fighting for the Healthy Terminal Act. The legislation would provide airport workers high quality insurance at a low cost.

Something La Guardia Airport cabin cleaner, Rasmus Harryson, says is the only way of getting health benefits.

"It's either I get sick or I'll be homeless, so I have to pay my rent to live," said Harryson.

The union workers will be back in Albany the end of March, rallying for the Healthy Terminals Act. Until then, they’re taking extra precautions like hand washing and wearing gloves.