Thursday, September 27, 2001
Council Approves Plan to Help Displaced Airport Workers Find Jobs
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
The City Council yesterday unanimously approved a plan to help laid-off airport workers find new jobs in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks after hearing from union and airport officials that even more layoffs are expected in the coming weeks.
Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas’ plan would require that the city do an inventory of all its vacant positions and give priority to former airport employees for those positions.
The relief would be aimed at all displaced airport employees, including both city and privately employed workers.
“Our job today is to balance security needs and job stability,” Ridley-Thomas said.
The 12-0 vote was taken after the council heard from recently displaced airport workers who showed up in force to urge the council to provide them some economic relief.
Hundreds of workers at Los Angeles International Airport lost their jobs in the wake of the terrorist attacks as the Federal Aviation Administration’s new security restrictions have left airport parking lots useless and concessions behind security checkpoints virtually empty.
With the airport losing $1.4 million a day due to the new security requirements, Los Angeles World Airports has placed a freeze on hiring for all positions excluding security.
Up to 12,000 airport workers could be out of work by late fall, LAWA Executive Director Lydia Kennard said.
“This is a very painful time for all of us in the aviation industry,” she said.
An additional 40,000 hotel workers, car rental agents and other airport-related business outside of LAX could be laid off, furloughed or see pay cuts as a result of decreased revenue from the airport, Kennard said.
“We need to fly, we need to make sure those jobs are there, and we need to get on with our lives,” Councilman Eric Garcetti said.
Garcetti urged Kennard to seek an FAA waiver to allow LAX to re-open its Central Terminal Area despite the new security restrictions to allow some of the workers to get back to work.
The CTA parking lots have been closed since the terrorist attacks because they do not meet the FAA requirement of being 300 feet from terminals. Private vehicles are no longer allowed to drive on the airport’s main thoroughfare and passengers not taking public transportation must be dropped off at remote lots and shuttled to their terminals.
“I understand there are security issues, but there is also an economic impact,” Garcetti said.
Kennard said LAWA had decided to keep the CTA closed to private vehicles after “a careful security assessment.”
Keeping the CTA closed also allows emergency vehicles to respond quickly to the numerous bomb threats LAX has experienced since the terrorist attacks, Kennard said.
On Tuesday the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners instructed LAX Police Chief Bernard Wilson to report at next week’s board meeting on the possible security hazards reopening the road would have.
Councilwoman Ruth Galanter cautioned her colleagues to remember that the airline industry was in economic trouble before Sept. 11 and the terrorist attacks just helped to “push it off a cliff.”
“We cannot expect the airlines to work a miracle in light of what happened,” Galanter said. “We need to see this as a city issue, not an airport issue.”
Ridley-Thomas’ motion also requires the city’s Workforce Investment Board to report back to the council on what resources are necessary to provide job training and placement services to displaced LAX employees.
Councilman Ed Reyes also added that the city’s housing department help former airport employees find affordable housing.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company