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San Diego International Airport Workers Asking For COVID-19 Vaccine

Passengers head to planes at the San Diego International Airport on June 24, 2020.
Erik Anderson
Passengers head to planes at the San Diego International Airport on June 24, 2020.

Union workers who clean-up and guard inside San Diego International Airport pressed state officials to move them up the vaccination list.

Protesters carried signs, wore purple shirts, but mostly remained socially distanced and silent. But they had a message to deliver: Give us the vaccine.

San Diego International Airport Workers Asking For COVID-19 Vaccine
Listen to this story by Erik Anderson.

“Most of our members that work here are janitors. The airport is really busy,” said Genovev Aguilar, a San Diego organizer for the Service Employees International Union.

She said her fellow union workers are disinfecting the airport everyday and that puts them at risk of contracting COVID-19.

VIDEO: San Diego International Airport Workers Asking For COVID-19 Vaccine

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Aguilar said she has already been infected and she suffers long-haul symptoms. Many of her co workers said they are afraid their lives are at risk and the disease may kill them.

“You’re not going to come back to home and you’re the only provider,” Aguilar said. “And I think that’s the most difficult part. It's scary moments. We’re not asking for a lot. We’re just asking to be alive. That’s it.”

The Service Employees International Union has 3,000 local members, 20,000 around the state. The union is asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to move them up on the essential worker vaccine list.

It is unclear if that will happen because the vaccine guidelines are set at the national level.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher says the county wants to make the shots available but they have to work with what they have.

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“We don’t know what the supply of vaccines will be," Fletcher said. “We also don’t know what the demand on appointments will be. So, we can’t predict when that will happen. But we started with health care workers and when we had slack in the system we opened it up to 75 and older. When we had slack in the system we opened up to 65 and older, and once we have slack in the system we will open it up to that first tier of essential workers.”

Right now, that tier does not include janitors and security guards at airports.

SEIU members also protested at airports in Los Angeles and Oakland.