Nora Dumenigo: Rick Scott, Marco Rubio must fight financial insecurity with Good Jobs for Good Airports Act
Aircraft cleaning service. Man cleaner working in airplane salon

Aircraft cleaning service. Man cleaner working in airplane salon
It’s hard work yet we are not respected, protected, or paid living wages.

Sometimes, it feels like the whole world wants to come to Miami every winter to bask in the sun.

However, for airport service workers like me at Miami International Airport (MIA), it reminds us that we can’t even afford to take time off when we’re sick, let alone enjoy a day at the beach with our families.

As a cabin cleaner, my job is to ensure American Airlines planes are safe and sanitized for passengers. Taking off work is not an option for me when that time is unpaid, and I’m living paycheck to paycheck. When I tested positive for COVID over the Summer, I was forced to take time off to recover and protect the public. Because I was out of work for 15 days, my family is falling behind on our bills. On top of having to pause our mortgage payments for six months, my husband and I are now cutting back on groceries just to get by.

This kind of financial insecurity is dangerous, and I know I’m not the only one going through it. The air travel industry is powered by a largely Black, brown, and immigrant airport service workforce of more than 300,000 workers strong. Too many of us have spent anxious hours debating whether we should show up for work sick or go a day without pay, or opened up a paycheck that we know won’t cover our expenses for the month.

Workers like me should not be in this situation. We help keep our air travel system running by taking on essential work cleaning cabins, fueling planes, loading baggage, escorting passengers, providing security, and more. It’s hard work – sometimes we have only three minutes to clean a plane – yet we are not respected, protected, or paid living wages.

At the same time, the airlines received billions in pandemic public funding meant to improve our air travel system. Instead of putting those federal dollars to work, airlines are raking in record revenue while failing to ensure good jobs for the very workers at the foundation of U.S. air travel.

Despite our importance to their bottom line, airlines do everything they can to deny us fair wages and access to benefits like affordable health care and paid time off. Here in Florida, the airline industry is actively supporting HB 917, a bill that would make it nearly impossible for a locality in our state to pass or enforce laws that protect workers, ensure affordable benefits or pay higher minimum wages.

The airline industry, including American Airlines, has a history of spending millions on lobbying to lower workplace standards or keep them stagnant. It’s pure corporate greed that ensures workers like me could get paid more in other jobs, even though our work is necessary for the system, leading to constant turnover and understaffing.

As Congress prepares to address these issues with the FAA Reauthorization, I’m calling on U.S. Sens. Rick Scott and Marcio Rubio to stand with working people and write us into the bill. The Good Jobs for Good Airports national wage and benefit standards would give tens of thousands of airport service workers access to fair wages, quality health care and paid time off, and we need them included in the FAA Reauthorization.

These standards would change my life. I wouldn’t have to stress about paying the bills the next time I get sick and could breathe a little easier knowing I can provide for my family.

As we approach the deadline for Congress to vote on legislation included in the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) Reauthorization bill, we need Congress to acknowledge our work by prioritizing our demands. What we are asking for is the bare minimum that working people everywhere should have access to – fair wages and necessary benefits so we can live without fear.

Now it’s up to Congress to make these dreams a reality.


Nora Dumenigo is a Miami airport service worker.

Guest Author


  • Dont Say FLA

    February 29, 2024 at 7:22 am

    If the people who fund G0P politicians cared to pay living wages, the G0P wouldn’t have allowed unelected House Speaker Trump shoot down the border bill that gave them everything they always said they ever wanted for the border.

    The G0P serves the airline CEOs, giving everyone else their silly line about “a rising tide lifts all boats” which is true, but the G0Ps strategy is more of a boat crane at the lake dock. It lifts the biggest yacht out the water and the result is all other boats sink just a little bit.

  • Child Tax Credit

    February 29, 2024 at 7:28 am

    What I would like to see is every US taxpayer be awarded a dependent tax credit for the hundreds-of-millionsaire or billionaire that takes up their money like children used to when people still had children (intentionally).

    Republicans claim they want people to have children, but they give our kid money to billionaires.

    If they really want to MAGA, make it so a family can get by on one income instead of childless households scraping by on two incomes.

    Pay CEOs reasonably like back when America was “Great.”

  • PeterH

    February 29, 2024 at 10:32 am

    Nora needs to understand that Republicans are not for the working people! They never have been and never will be. Republicans are invested in the interests of multimillionaires. Republicans use MAGA working class Americans as tools to win votes…….but have no vested interest in improving their lives. Nora ….. your only option for a living wage is education and Unionization. Thanks for keeping the airlines sanitary for safe travel!

Comments are closed.


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