A new report released by SEIU 32BJ, the union that represents more than 600 workers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL), calls for emergency preparedness training for wheelchair attendants, security officers, skycaps and other subcontracted airline workers. The report was prepared in response to the January shooting at the airport and the subsequent challenges passengers and workers faced during evacuation of the premises. Five people were killed by the shooter and several more were injured during the shooting and evacuation.
Titled Safe Airports: Empowering Passenger Service Workers To Make FLL Safer, the report suggests that a lack of emergency preparedness for airline passenger service workers, as well as the decline of wages and benefits may have contributed to the chaos before and after the attack. It also references best practices and policies at other airports where more training is required.
“Even though a handful of workers tried, mostly on their own initiative, to help passengers evacuate and to comfort them during the aftermath of the shooting, the vast majority of passenger service workers from various contractors at FLL interviewed and surveyed by SEIU Local 32BJ after the January shooting and its aftermath expressed serious concerns about their level of preparedness for airport emergencies and evacuations,” the report said. “They also expressed frustration at not being able to provide information or guidance to panicked passengers that looked to them for answers during the January shooting and mass self-evacuation.” The report suggested the adoption of training requirements for passenger service contractors. The report also pushed for better wages and benefits “commensurate with the responsibilities of those [passenger service] workers.”
FLL declined to comment directly on the report, noting that its consultant is working on an independent review of the January 6 events. “We maintain our position that until our report is completed we will not be addressing any other reports prepared by other entities,” said Greg Meyer, public information officer.