Philadelphia Airport Workers Keep Up the Fight for a Living Wage

Philadelphia Airport Workers Keep Up the Fight for a Living Wage

Philadelphia-City Council yesterday moved one step closer to approving a lease with US Airways that leaves airport workers in poverty.

“US Airways is the largest airline in the world, yet thousands of airport workers in Philadelphia are stuck in poverty,” said Philadelphia International airport worker, Onetha McKnight. “It’s not fair that my co-workers and I will continue to make poverty wages while US Airways makes record profits.”

Although Council voted to remove harmful anti-worker labor peace language, yesterday’s vote cemented that the city’s 21st Century Minimum Wage Standard will not be applied to subcontracted airport workers as part of the lease agreement. The final vote is expected on June 20.

However, Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. offered hope for airport workers by introducing legislation to amend the city’s Home Rule Charter to apply the 21st Century Minimum Wage Standard for contracted and subcontracted workers in future leases and contracts. The next opportunity to amend the Home Rule Charter would be during the May primary or fall 2014 election.

“We are encouraged by Councilman Goode’s efforts to apply a living wage to airport workers. We will strongly support Councilman Goode’s initiative when it makes it on the ballot,” said Wayne MacManiman, 32BJ SEIU Mid-Atlantic District Director.

Earlier this week, the National Employment Law Project released a new report, Soaring Poverty at the Philadelphia International Airport, revealing that the medium hourly wage for subcontracted airport workers is $7.85 per hour and that one in five airport workers go hungry.

With more than 125,000 members, including 10,000 in the Philadelphia area, 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.


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