After a Five Year Struggle, Philadelphia Airport Workers Win Their First Union Contract

Julie Blust 215-713-6777

After a Five Year Struggle, Philadelphia Airport Workers Win Their First Union Contract

Landmark deal provides 1,500 airport workers with a path to the middle class

PHILADELPHIA-Along with Mayor Jim Kenney, Council members and clergy, Philadelphia airport workers—including baggage handlers, wheelchair agents, cabin cleaners, line queues, sky caps and more—today announced the first ever union contract after more than five years of organizing for a living wage and a union.

“I am proud of Philadelphia airport workers for winning a union contract that gives them the dignity, rights on the job and living wage that was long overdue.  The best way to combat poverty in our city is through good union jobs. I commend American Airlines and their contractors for coming to an agreement that lifts these workers out of poverty while improving service at our airport,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.

“Since we started coming together with our union we have doubled our pay and now have job protection and other benefits. Our union contract gives us a voice on the job and helps make our lives and the Philadelphia airport better,” said Timothy Glenn, a 32BJ member and wheelchair agent who has worked at the airport since 2010.

On Thursday, more than 1,500 contract airport workers Philadelphia airport took a giant step away from poverty towards a better future by voting to unanimously ratify their first-ever union contract. The landmark contract, between the airport workers’ union 32BJ SEIU and airline contractors, provides wage raises up to $13.60 an hour, more than double what airport workers made before they began organizing with the union along with other benefits including paid time off. The contract also guarantees a bevy of job protections to provide stability in the workers’ lives and the airport. The Philadelphia International Airport is now among the first group of airports in the nation where an overwhelming majority of its subcontracted workers have unionized.

“This is the perfect Philadelphia underdog story. Airport workers refused to be knocked down and counted out,” said Gabe Morgan, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU. “Their victory would not be possible without support from Mayor Kenney, Governor Wolf, City Council, POWER and thousands of allies and passengers who have stood with the hardworking men and women at the airport.”

The airport workers’ victory is part of a growing wave of teachers and other workers taking dramatic action and winning, in spite of the war on working families at both the national and state levels of government. Philadelphia airport workers are part of an emerging movement taking flight at airports across the country. Airport workers are united in 37 airports in the U.S., where nearly 120,000 airport workers have already won raises and 25,000 have won a union with SEIU.

“Philadelphia airport workers won a moral victory after years of struggle,” said Reverend Gregory Holston from POWER, an organization that took on the airport workers plight since the beginning. “On the exact same day that the Poor People’s Campaign reminds us of the 140 million Americans who this economy is leaving behind, Philadelphia airport workers are showing us the way forward.”


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