Living Wage Movement Arriving in America’s Airports

Credit: SEIU

Do you remember the breakthrough Sea-Tac referendum in November 2013? Inspired by the fight for $15, voters called for a $15/hour minimum wage at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, delivering a living wage to thousands of underpaid airport baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, and wheelchair attendants. Last fall 1,000 of these workers cemented their gains by winning recognition of their union, SEIU Local 6. Since that time, America’s airports have emerged as a central front in the fight for a living-wage economy.

In city by city, union organizers have assembled local coalitions bringing together workers, community groups, faith leaders and elected officials. The coalitions have been pressing for both union rights and wage floors at airports across the nation, understanding that neither one alone is sufficient to secure lasting gains for many low-paid service workers. In recent months 8,000 workers at Newark, LaGuardia and JFK won their first union contract; workers at Boston’s Logan Airport won a raise; and 600 workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport won recognition for their union, SEIU Local 26. Organizing efforts and living wage campaigns continue in Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Washington DC.

Have you been part of one of these coalitions? Tell your story below in the comments section!