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Pride Industries Gets Support From High-Profile Figures After Sac International Airport Considers Firing Organization

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - There's controversy over the clean-up crews at Sacramento International Airport.

Just as travel takes off again across the country, at Sacramento International Airport it has been a time of renewed uncertainty.

The county airport department recommended ending the janitorial service contract with Pride Industries, before a backlash of opposition.

Pride Industries employs people living with special needs, helping them create sustainable living,  and also provide high-quality work.

Eric McCullough has worked as an airport custodian for the past decade

"It's a non-profit organization, and it provides jobs for people with disabilities so they can go out to the real world and find jobs," McCullough said. "It gives me an opportunity to learn new things, and be proud of who I am."

Darla Byrd is a supervisor at Pride Industries and says travelers may recognize the custodial work, without knowing the Pride mission.

"They don't know our mission is to support, employees with disabilities," Byrd said.

The Sacramento County Airport department recommended changing contracts from Pride Industries to a "less expensive for-profit company," until an aggressive letter-writing campaign started.

CEOs of the area's biggest companies who are also Pride Board members wrote letters to the county. Perhaps the most influential letter came from the man credited with creating the new Airport Terminal B, retired airport director Hardy Acree.

He wrote he had not been thinking about the airport; "however, today I heard there is a possibility that Pride Industries might lose the custodial contract at SMF. That's difficult for me to comprehend."

"Like yes, we have someone in our corner to back us up," Byrd said. "It means the world."

The opposition delayed take-off of a change in airport clean-up crews. And now has airport staff reversing course, recommending a return of its special needs employees,

"I was worried," McCullough said.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a three-year contract extension with Pride Industries on Tuesday.

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