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Broward County Commissioners Warn Airport Company Eulen America Not To Displace Workers

Fort Lauderdale Airport
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

This post has been updated with new information as of 8:35 p.m. Tuesday.

Broward County Commissioners are now involved in ongoing investigations into the airport contractor Eulen America.

The company took over a contract with Delta Air Lines at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport last week. But, commissioners are scrutinizing whether it failed to comply with a county law requiring that workers not be laid off during a change of contract. 

Some commissioners expressed concern at a meeting Tuesday that the company didn't keep enough wheelchair attendants from the previous contract with Bags Inc., and hired outside employees instead.

Broward County's worker retention law requires airline contractors to keep workers who were previously employed during a switch in contracts — for at least 45 days. It's an effort to prevent large layoffs at the airport.

"These are very concerning allegations that I'm hearing," County Commissioner Michael Udine said. "I think we should do what we can to protect the employees, but I just need to see more of the facts as we move forward."

A spokesperson for Eulen told commissioners that the company doesn't believe they've made any violations, but they will review the workers they did not keep employed.

Eulen was recently the subject of a CBS 4 investigation which found poor conditions for workers at Miami International Airport, including lack of access to drinking water and long work shifts without breaks.

In response Eulen America issued a statement, which read in part: "The company firmly believes the opinions of a few individuals circulating in the news media—pushed by a union using false attacks to drum up support—do not reflect the true opinion of its more than 1,600 employees at MIA."

Read More: Commissioner Eileen Higgins Discusses Harsh Working Conditions For Some Employees At MIA

The Broward County Commisson voted at the meeting to have the aviation department send Eulen an official notice of noncompliance. The company now has 30 days to either prove that it does not need the workers who were let go, or find employment for them. If it does not comply, it risks having its contract with Delta in Fort Lauderdale terminated at a future county commission meeting.

After the meeting, Xavier Rabell, Eulen America CEO wrote a statement to WLRN via email, which reads in part: “Eulen has committed full resources to ensure past contractor workforce members can retain their positions if they would like, and work closely with our airline client to exceed service expectations as well as meet all Broward County contract workforce requirements.” 

Nadege Moise has been employed as a wheelchair attendant at the airport for the past eight years. She told the commission that her last day of work was last week, because of the change in contractors.

"When Eulen [took] over, they asked us to do an application, to bring immigration papers...we [did] everything," she said. "So they decide to not hire us...That really stressed me out, losing my job over nothing."

The workers' union 32 BJ SEIU is also concerned that the workers who were kept during the change in company have had their hours reduced. The union sent a petition and letter to both Eulen and Delta Air Lines on behalf of the estimated 14-18 displaced workers. 

"I would like to ask you guys, please do something for us," Moise asked commissioners. "Listen to us."