Reprinted with permission from ProPublica
This spring, as the coronavirus spread and international travel bans grounded flights, Gebrish Weldemariam got a layoff letter from his airline catering job at Dulles International Airport.
He'd been working as a driver making more than $18 per hour for Flying Food Group, ferrying in-flight meals between the company's kitchen and gated planes waiting on the tarmac. Between overtime at the airport and a part-time job driving buses on the side, Weldemariam felt that times were good. Last fall, with his wife expecting a fourth child, the family bought a house not far from the airport, allowing him to be nearby to help care for his oldest son, who has Down syndrome and needs constant attention.