BOSTON — Logan Airport workers and their allies gathered today on the steps of the State House to speak about the importance of a safe airport that compensates workers fairly, conditions promoted by the $15 Airport bill that advanced out of the Labor Committee last week.
“Airport workers do their best to keep airports safe and secure for the millions of passengers who pass through every day,” said Roxana Rivera, Vice-President of 32BJ District 615. “Horrific attacks like the one that took place at the Brussels airport highlight the sensitive nature of all work at the airports. We must continue to invest in both the physical and human capital that keeps passengers safe. Workers put safety first every day and must be prepared, trained, and properly compensated as they keep airports secure. That’s why it’s so important that the $15 Airport Bill was supported by the Labor Committee last week. It shows that Massachusetts wants an airport with solid standards all around.”
“I’ve experienced a huge difference between working for ReadyJet, which is non-union, and for DTZ, where workers are members of 32BJ,” said Angel Rivera, an airport cleaner. “Employees stay at DTZ because of the better pay and benefits. But there’s also a world of difference in the supplies, in the training, in the safety of our work. It shows a level of respect both for the worker and for the customer when we have the proper equipment at our workplace. It’s like night and day.”
In 2014, the Massachusetts Attorney General ordered ReadyJet to pay workers over $13,000 in restitution for illegal wage deductions, as well as a $5,000 penalty. The same year, the company was initially fined over $29,000 for Health and Safety violations.
Like the Fast Food bill, which also advanced out of committee, the $15 Airport Bill would help discourage unscrupulous employers who underpay employees and undermine health and safety standards. Entitled “An Act Relative to Fair Wages” (H. 3923, S.2125), the bill would raise wages to $15- an-hour for 1,500 contracted aviation service workers at Logan Airport by 2018. After advancing out of the Labor Committee last week the bill moved to the Senate. Airport workers visited Senate offices throughout the day to ask for their Senators’ support in its passage.
“By voting to move our Airport bill forward, the committee is sending a clear message: no one should work full time and remain in poverty,” said Representative Adrian Madaro, D-East-Boston. “This legislation supports struggling workers, many of whom live in my district. Decent wages and fair contracts not only protect workers, they also ensure the kind of quality service that Boston’s visitors deserve.”
“I live with my three sisters and father, and we pay $2000 in rent in Dorchester,” said Jackson Calderon, a cleaner at the airport with Lima. “I don’t make enough to afford a car, or to keep up with all the rising costs. I was hoping to bring my daughter and her mother to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic, but I just don’t have the money. I haven’t seen them in over a year. Nobody can survive for long on our pay.”
“People who work for a living ought to be able to make a living, but unfortunately this is not the case for the thousands of aviation service employees at Logan Airport who continually struggle to make ends meet,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), a sponsor of the bill. “A $15 minimum wage would help to lift these hardworking men and women who are simply looking for a fair and livable wage to support themselves and their families. It’s time for us to stand with them and give them the respect and dignity that they deserve.”
With 145,000 members in 11 states — including nearly 18,000 in Massachusetts — 32BJ is the largest property service union in the country
Around the country, contracted airport workers are coming together in Airport Workers United, a movement of workers and their allies, raising their voices for $15 and union rights to make our airports safe and secure for passengers, employees and our communities. By sticking together, speaking out for change, and going on strike, these workers have won wage increases in Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, and Fort Lauderdale. Today, more than 70,000 workers nationwide have either received wages increases or other improvements, including healthcare, paid sick leave and worker retention policies as a result of the workers’ campaign.