Airport workers across the United States will be demanding better wages and working conditions on December 8th.
Thousands of airport workers across the United States will be holding a nationwide day of action on Thursday to raise awareness about inadequate pay and working conditions, according to a press release by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The announcement comes as the travel industry braces for its annual holiday surge.
The day of action
Photo: Lima Airport Partners.
Airport workers across all domains will be participating in the day of action; this includes cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, wheelchair assistants, janitors, and security guards, among others. Their objective is to spread awareness about the failure of U.S. airports to provide workers with essential protections like a living wage, health care, paid time off, and safe working conditions. They will also be promoting the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act, a bill that was recently introduced into Congress which aims to provide airport workers with such benefits and more.
The day will consist of rallies, marches, and other demonstrations that express disapproval towards existing wages and working conditions at over 15 American airports. Affected airports include O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), and more. It is worth noting that 45% of all domestic air travel in the United States goes through these airports.
Photo: Miami International Airport
At the heart of the day of action is airport workers’ desire to shed light on corporate greed. Despite being hampered by the pandemic, travel remains one of the largest industries in the world; yet, for the past 20 years, airport workers have continued to make poverty-level wages. Black and brown workers in particular remain the most underpaid. In spite of this, they continue to ensure the safe and timely operation of airports across the country, allowing businesses to expand their reach and separated families to reunite. Even during the pandemic, when a significant proportion of the general public worked remotely, airport workers showed up and ensured that essential travel remained operational at great risk to their own health. In addition, they facilitated the cargo industry’s attempts to keep up with consumer demand despite a global supply chain crisis. There is therefore no doubt about the contribution of airport workers to not only the travel industry but other industries as well.
The day of action ultimately represents the perfect opportunity for airport workers to express their dismay towards status quo wages and working conditions. It also comes at the perfect time as the travel industry prepares for its busiest winter since before the pandemic. And given that workers will be holding rallies and marches at some of the busiest airports across the country, it is not unreasonable to assume that they will be able to reach a large audience on Thursday. Only time will tell if the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act actually has the potential to solve the issues affecting airport workers, but for now, spreading awareness about the cause is a step in the right direction.