Hunting for fevers at U.S. airports may not do much to deter the spread of Ebola virus, but fears of the disease have prompted workers in several fields to sound the alarm about the potential risks they face every day the outbreak goes on.
As many as 200 workers at New York’s LaGuardia Airport began striking late Wednesday as part of their efforts to gain a contract with Atlanta’s Air Serv, an airport contractor for Delta Air Lines, using the attention Ebola has received as a way to address the nastier aspects of their jobs. The workers, who earn an average of $9 per hour, are seeking more durable gloves, as well as goggles and face masks for certain jobs that involve exposure to urine and feces, says Amity Paye, a spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union, which is seeking to represent the contractors. At least once per week an employee is sprayed with lavatory sewage from a plane, a mishap workers dub a “baptism,” she says. “This strike is solely over health and safety conditions,” Paye says. “It’s not over Ebola.”