Airport Workers Protesting and Striking Across US

Workers at 15 airports across the nation participating in on-site rallies

Image Credits: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Workers at 15 airports across the nation, including New York, Dallas, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and others are participating in on-site rallies, demanding that Congress pass the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act that will provide them with a base level of pay and more benefits.

There are more than 144,000 workers employed in the Airport Operations Industry in the United States, according to IBIS World. That number grows exponentially when including concessionaires, government agencies and other entities that work at airports.

Meanwhile, formal strikes are taking place in three major airports: Boston’s Logan International Airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport. It is unclear if the strikes are affecting service, there have been no significant delays. The strikes are planned for 24-hours. The strikes started Thursday morning.

The Good Pay for Good Airports act will mandate a $15-an-hour minimum wage for Airport workers and require paid time off, holidays, healthcare and other benefits. Protesters supporting the bill gathered on Capitol Hill on Thursday and were joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as well as the two senators who introduced the bill to the Senate, Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Representatives Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) who introduced the bill to the House of Representatives, also attended the rally.

The strikers are protesting against their direct employer, Swissport International AG. Workers say they have been suffering from unfair and unsafe working conditions and low wages. Swissport denies that its working conditions are unsafe and says its wages are competitive.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) says that workers have been asked to do more with less time. They note that the time provided to clean cabins has been reduced to just a few minutes.

Some workers, including striking workers at Logan International, have also made allegations of wage theft and union busting against Swissport.

Meanwhile, workers who unload baggage from planes at LaGuardia International Airport are being told to work as cabin cleaners as well, according to the union.

“Now, airport workers are seizing their power alongside working people across the economy – from Starbucks to Amazon, fast-food to home care and beyond — to demand more from their employers and elected officials,” SEIU president Mary Kay Henry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the U.K. is also dealing with striking airport workers, with workers expected to walk off the job from December 23 to 26 and December 28 to New Year’s Eve.

That strike will affect six airports in London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow.

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