Fort Lauderdale, FL —Broward County Commissioners have introduced a bill to extend the County’s Living Wage ordinance to include over 1,200 passenger service workers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport who earn an average of $8.14 per hour, significantly below the federal poverty line. Closing this loophole would inject an additional $14 million per year into Broward’s economy and communities.
“Workers at our County’s airports are still being left behind today,” said Commissioner Beam Furr. “We must raise the standard of living for both County Contractors and County Subcontractors as we have done for County Employees before them. We must do this in the hopes that all wage earners in Broward County will earn a living wage one day soon.”
According to a new report, Miami International Airport benefits in a variety of ways by requiring airline contractors to pay a living wage, in sharp contrast to FLL, where many of the same contractors only pay poverty wages.
As a result, FLL experiences significantly higher turnover among workers (an average tenure of 3.5 years) than MIA (an average tenure of 5.2 years). High turnover rates are often due to poverty wages, resulting in a workforce that is inexperienced, and that may not be familiar with critical airport safety procedures.
As airlines make record-breaking profits (as much as $2.8 billion per year), and take advantage of FLL’s cheap costs (four times lower than MIA), Broward taxpayers pay airlines an indirect subsidy because their poverty wages leave workers reliant on public assistance. A higher percentage of workers at FLL (29%) have to rely on public assistance than those at MIA (18%).
Many local governments and airport authorities have already increased standards for their airport workers.After passing minimum labor standards, employers at San Francisco International Airport reported significant decreases in turnover rates, resulting in substantial savings, and improvements in customer service, employee morale, disciplinary issues and absenteeism.
Passenger service workers excluded from the FLL’s living wage law include baggage handlers, sky caps, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners, ramp workers, passenger assistance representatives, check-point screeners, fuelers, and security officers.
With more than 145,000 members in 11 states, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.