According to Eulen’s 2015 corporate responsibility report, the Company takes pride in promoting social responsibility and paying wages above the legal minimum to its Spanish workforce.
However, workers in the U.S. face a different reality. Workers at DCA earn poverty wages of as low as $3.77 plus tips for sky caps and $6.75 for wheelchair attendants plus tips. Additionally, it was only after Broward County extended the living wage to FLL airline-contractor workers that Eulen started paying its FLL employees a living wage. MIA also has a living wage ordinance but too many jobs at FLL and MIA are still part-time, workers are not provided with significant benefits, and workers still struggle to support their families.
Throughout many Eulen worksites at U.S. airports, workers are confronted with a lack of respect for their rights, which demonstrates the increasing need for U.S. Eulen workers to organize and form a union.
Opposition to Workers’ Organizing Efforts in the U.S.
Eulen Group prides itself in its corporate responsibility including a commitment to being a signatory of the UN Global Compact which calls for companies to respect national laws and respect the rights of all workers to form a union of their choice without fear of intimidation or reprisal. While Eulen Group reports that over 96% of its workers in Spain are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, Eulen America has opposed organizing efforts by workers in the U.S. with questionable and heavy-handed tactics.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has investigated charges against Eulen for alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act and at three different airports, NLRB Region Directors have found merit in charges that Eulen unlawfully fought workers’ organizing to improve their conditions and filed formal complaints against the company. The allegations that Eulen has retaliated against workers by firing them are particularly troubling. The unfair labor practices charges filed against Eulen are summarized below.
Terminations of Union Supporters at Fort Lauderdale International Airport
- In August 2016, the NLRB issued a complaint against Eulen finding probable cause that Eulen unlawfully fired a worker because of her union activities. The worker had previously gone on strike on two occasions to protest Eulen’s unfair labor practices and poor working conditions. The NLRB complaint also states that Eulen fired the worker to discourage employees from engaged in union activities. The case is currently awaiting trial before an administrative law judge.
- In August 2013, Eulen fired an employee at FLL, after he appeared on television and at a rally protesting low wages. Following issuance of an unfair labor practice complaint by the NLRB, on June 25, 2015, Eulen agreed to settle the case without admitting any wrongdoing and pay the worker $21,000 in back pay and interest. Additionally, as part of the settlement Eulen agreed to modify its employee handbook to repeal rules that interfered with employee rights to engage in concerted activity and union activity, as well as post a notice that Eulen will comply with all federal labor laws and respect the employees’ right to organize and support labor unions.
Miami International Airport
- In November 2015, charges were filed against Eulen for requiring their MIA workers to sign mandatory arbitration agreements that require employees to give up their right to pursue collective legal actions against Eulen related to disputes regarding their employment relationship. The charge also alleges that Eulen fired one of its MIA employees in retaliation for his union activities and that Eulen coerced employees in the exercise of their rights by telling them they could not speak to union representatives. The NLRB is currently investigating these charges. However, for several months Eulen refused to cooperate fully with the NLRB investigation of the charges, requiring the NLRB to file a subpoena enforcement action in court, which was only withdrawn when Eulen finally agreed to comply with the subpoena in December 2016. Eulen’s conduct has delayed the NLRB’s determination on the charges and thus delayed any resolution of the case for the workers impacted by the company’s conduct.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
- In September, 2015, charges were filed against Eulen alleging, among other things, that one or more company representatives illegally interrogated Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport workers about their union activities and that Eulen created the impression that their union activities were under surveillance and discriminatorily enforced rules to discourage union activity. The NLRB found enough evidence to issue an unfair labor practice Complaint against Eulen. In July 2016, Eulen agreed to settle the charges without admitting any wrongdoing and agreed to post a notice stating that it would not interfere with workers’ rights to organize.
John F. Kennedy International Airport
- In March 2016 Region 29 of the NLRB found merit in charges that Eulen was threatening workers with unspecified reprisals for engaging in union activity and told employees not to speak to the Union, and that Eulen maintained an unlawful rule in the handbooks it provided to employees. The NLRB found enough evidence to issue an unfair labor practice Complaint against Eulen. Subsequently, in July 2016 along with the Ronald Reagan case mentioned above, Eulen agreed to settle the case without admitting any wrongdoing.
- In October 2016 the NLRB issued a complaint against Eulen alleging that around February 2016 Eulen directed employees to refrain from engaging in union activities, and just a few months later in June 2016 Eulen fired a worker allegedly due to her involvement in union activities. The case settled in January 2017, with Eulen paying $2,000 to the fired worker in lieu of reinstatement and without admission of wrongdoing.
Contentions of Discrimination
- In 2011 an employee at Tallahassee airport sued Eulen alleging she was subjected to hostility and poor treatment on the basis of national origin. Eulen denied the claims, but eventually the company and the plaintiff agreed to settlement with terms unknown.
Wage and Hour Actions Filed
Eulen has an alarming history of wage and hour claims filed by its employees for alleged failure to pay overtime and alleged wage theft. Though Eulen always denied the allegations, many of these claims have culminated in settlements. Some of the most recent cases are summarized below.
Wage Complaints at Ft. Lauderdale Airport
- For more than one year Eulen workers at Ft. Lauderdale airport have raised questions about not being paid the full amount of hours that they work, leading a group of workers to filed wage recovery complaints with Broward County in 2016. In an attempt to dismiss the workers allegations, Eulen submitted attendance and payroll records that appeared to show underpayment of hours worked by employees. When confronted with its own records, and without explaining the discrepancies, in October 2016 Eulen offered to pay workers the full amount they demanded, but without acknowledging any wrongdoing. A few weeks later, Eulen fired one of the workers that presented a wage recovery claim. On November 15, 2016, Eulen workers at FLL went on their fourth strike in less than 2 years, this time to protest against Eulen’s recent treatment of its FLL employees.
- In June 2015, 13 employees brought a collective action lawsuit to the Miami Southern District Court of Florida against Eulen claiming unpaid overtime. Eulen rejected these allegations, and also defended itself against the claims by asserting that plaintiffs “failed to mitigate their damages by acts including their failure to complain or report any alleged illegality of work requested of them.” Despite denying the allegations, Eulen finally agreed to settle the case on March 9, 2016. As part of the settlement Eulen agreed to pay an estimated $60,000 consisting of $2,730.76 to each of the 13 plaintiffs and $24,500 in attorney fees and costs for the representation of the plaintiffs.
- In October 2014 another case was filed by two Miami airport employees alleging that their checks did not reflect the real number of hours worked and Eulen failed to pay them overtime. The suit alleged that every time Plaintiffs complained they were told there were failures in the computerized system, and both Plaintiffs claimed that they faced retaliation by being fired as a result of their complaints regarding overtime pay. Although Eulen denied the allegations, the case was settled under unknown terms on April 14, 2015.
- November 2014, another lawsuit was filed in the Miami Southern District Court of Florida on behalf of terminated Eulen employees which alleged that after Eulen settled a previous wage and hour case, Plaintiffs’ counsel provided Eulen attorneys with the names of 36 additional current employees that were represented in another forthcoming overtime case and that shortly thereafter Eulen requested that the 36 employees sign an arbitration agreement requiring them to arbitrate all current and future claims. According to the complaint, after some of the employees refused to sign such agreements, the employees faced retaliation and were terminated. Eulen denied the allegations, but eventually agreed to settle the case under unknown terms on December 15, 2015.