The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners approved a policy on Monday aimed at improving contract oversight and training standards for the private companies that hire service workers at LAX.
The policy allows airport officials to examine a contractor's training technique, prior experience at major airports and the quality of service offered to passengers. An approved list of contractors will then be distributed to the airlines, which hire the private firms to select janitors, security screeners, baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants working in each terminal.
For now, more than 200 companies hire airport service workers for the airlines operating at LAX. Airport officials hope the new policy will narrow the pool.
"This would be the airport essentially stepping forward and taking a more assertive role in trying to make sure there are common standards and making sure that criteria are met," said Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that operates Los Angeles International Airport.
The policy change was suggested following a report released last summer that found private firms subcontracted by the airlines offer inadequate training to their workers and fail to replace faulty equipment used to transport disabled passengers.
Similar policies exist at airports in San Francisco, Miami and Boston.
"This action will help us protect the safety of the traveling public and improve the quality of services received," Airport Commissioner Joseph Aredas said.
The proposal was pushed by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, which tried 10 years ago to require concessionaires at LAX to pay a living wage to their workers. The group also succeeded in requiring LAX-area hotels to adopt the same policy after a protracted battle that lasted two years.
"This will improve security, safety and service quality at the airport, while also improving job quality for thousands of workers," said Carolina Briones, research director for LAANE. "It isn't really going to improve until the major airlines take responsibility for their workers."