7/26: Fired Airport Whistle-blowers Speak Out!

Port Commission to Hear from Food Service Workers Fired After Reporting Labor Law Violations

Who: Hakima Arhab and Bikram Thapa, Oakland Airport Subway employees recently fired after they filed claims against Subway for violations of state and local labor laws; other airport food service workers; UNITE HERE Local 2850.

What: Hakima, Bikram and their co-workers will address the Oakland Port Commission, urging them to investigate and take action against airport food service subcontractors who have fired whistle-blowers.

When: Thursday, July 26. Workers will gather at 4:30 pm and enter the Port Commission meeting at 5 pm.

Where: Port of Oakland, 530 Water Street, Oakland.

Why: In early July, workers from eight non-union food service subcontractors at the Oakland Airport launched a public campaign for justice on the job. They filed claims against employers for numerous violations of federal, state and local labor laws. They also demanded a fair process to decide whether to join a union without interference from bosses.

In the past week, the Oakland Airport Subway owner Navdeep Grewal fired Bikram Thapa and Hakima Arhab, both of whom had filed claims for labor law violations. Bikram also participated in a July 6th rally outside the airport, organized by UNITE HERE Local 2850. Hakima had appeared in flyers and videos urging her co-workers to stand up for their rights.

“I used to work 12-hour days at Subway. I had no health care – I didn’t even get the breaks, overtime pay, or paid sick days we are supposed to get by law. I started telling my co-workers that we had to speak out and stop Subway from breaking the law. Now, all of a sudden, my boss has no work for me,” said Arhab.

This Thursday, Hakima, Bikram, and other workers will call on the Port Commission to investigate labor abuses at Subway and other food service subcontractors. The Port theoretically requires employers in the airport to comply with all applicable labor laws and prohibits retaliation against workers who file complaints. But so far, the Port has not taken any action to address the workers’ concerns. In fact, the Port actually disciplined several workers for entering the airport on their days off to speak with their employers about problems on the job.

The non-union workers will be joined by other airport food service workers who are members of UNITE HERE Local 2850. “Because I have a union job, I have health care for my son – and I can’t get fired for no reason just because my boss is mad at me,” said snack bar attendant Rehnaaz Nisha. “I think everyone who works in OUR airport should get the same opportunity as me.”