Washington, DC – Delta executives would not even listen to the horror stories endured by their own contracted passenger service workers, who work for Eulen American, one of Delta’s contractors at Reagan National Airport, and who are struggling to survive on as $6.75-8/hr. These workers, who have allegedly been interrogated by their employer Eulen America about federally protected activities, were turned away by Delta officials after attempting to deliver a petition and collection of worker horror stories. Days before Halloween, workers say the airport is always a horror show for the 2,000 contracted workers, some whom face homelessness, electricity shut-off notices and are forced to sleep in the airport.
As part of coordinated actions at major airports across the country, DCA workers will also deliver a petition, calling on their employers and the airlines they serve to put an end to the horrors taking place at our nation’s airports. Contracted airport service workers are excluded from the airport’s living wage law and are overwhelmingly African and Latino immigrants and African-Americans. They’re baggage handlers, sky caps, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners, ramp workers, passenger assistance representatives, check-point screeners, fuelers, and security officers.
Despite working for profitable employers, more than one-third (37 percent) of cleaning and baggage workers at airports, both directly hired and outsourced, live in or near poverty. Wheelchair attendants at some airports have to rely on tips from passengers with disabilities to even make minimum wage.
Last week, Plymouth United Congregational Church pastor, Rev. Graylan Hagler pledged support for Reagan National Airport workers at a rally with hundreds of airport workers from across the nation. Workers have also received backing from Congressman Gerry Connolly and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. The event followed the first-ever National Airport Worker Convention as part of the Fight for $15 movement. By marching, protesting, and striking at local airports, 45,000 airport workers have already won wage increases and other improvements including healthcare, paid sick leave and worker retention policies.
Airport workers across the country 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 even going on strike, these workers they have won wage increases for airport workers in Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, and Fort Lauderdale.
With more than 145,000 members in 11 states, including 17,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.