PHILADELPHIA-As the Philadelphia International Airport begins an unusually busy spring break season, subcontracted airport workers will go on strike tonight at 9:00pm in protest of unfair labor practices by their employers, concerns over health and safety, and their employer’s failure to pay everyone the new minimum wage of $12 an hour and fully abide by the city’s sick days law.
Airport workers who were set to strike last week, but decided to postpone the planned work stoppage in light of the horrific tragedy which unfolded today at the Brussels Airport and subway. Last week, Brussels airport workers saved lives through their heroic acts. Horrific attacks like the one that took place at the Brussels airport highlight the sensitive nature of all work at the airports.
Recent studies show that airport workers who provide critical services such as assisting disabled passengers and who maintain public health standards are too often poorly compensated and have few incentives to stay in their jobs over the long-term. These experts believe such conditions for workers, who could potentially serve as first responders in the case of an emergency, put travelers and passengers at elevated risk.
Workers at other major hubs in New York City, Newark, Washington, D.C., Fort Lauderdale, Seattle, Chicago, and Boston will also be striking. In Los Angeles, airport workers will rally at LAX to bring attention to the unfair working conditions they face in the hands of bottom feeder subcontractors.
|WHAT||Philadelphia Airport Workers On Strike|
|WHEN||Wednesday, March 30 and Thursday, March 31|
|Wednesday, 9:00pm: Picket line begins. Outside at Terminal B/C, Departures side|
|Thursday, 7:00am: Picket line and press conference. Outside at Terminal B/C, Departures side
Councilman Curtis Jones
|Thursday, Noon: Rallywith airport workers, elected officials and faith leaders. Outside at Terminal B/C, Departures side
State Rep. Jason Dawkins
Congressman Bob Brady (Tentative)
Background: The strikes are taking place amidst record profits for the aviation industry while many airport workers continue to live in abject poverty. Last year alone, the airlines raked in more than $23 billion in profits.
In Philadelphia, airport workers have gone on strike before. Their actions have resulted in several major airline contractors coming into compliance with the minimum wage law and improving working conditions and standards. Despite this progress, one of the largest airline contractors in the nation, PrimeFlight, has repeatedly denied the airport workers’ demands for fair treatment and the wages and sick time they deserve. McGinn Security, another PHL airline service contractor, recently settled an unfair labor practice case with the National Labor Relations Board by posting a notice to its employees stating that it would rescind a company policy that interfered with employees organizing right and would otherwise respect workers’ rights to unionize.
PrimeFlight, which employs 4,500 employees at 49 airports across the U.S. and Caribbean, provides services to American Airlines at PHL, including wheelchair pushing and baggage handling. Just last week, OSHA issued proposed citations to PrimeFlight for serious health and safety violations at the Newark and LaGuardia airports. The Nashville-based company faces $41,000 in combined fines for violations, including failing to provide gloves or training for workers who with deal blood and other potentially infectious materials, and failing to provide lift trucks with protections to keep workers from falling 20ft to the concrete below.
In 2014, USA Today reported that 99 people were killed in airport ramp accidents since 2001.
Airport workers across the country are concerned that inadequate safety and health standards, along with low wages, high turnover, insufficient or lack of training at our airports not only put workers in danger but also undermine safety and quality of service.
A December 2015 GAO report – noting health and safety violations by contracted aviation services employers – supports workers’ concerns that aviation service providers do not ensure that workers have the necessary training and protective equipment.
With 155,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 22,000 in Pennsylvania, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.