While thousands of travelers fly in and out of airports every day on business trips or family vacations, many airport workers can barely afford their own commute to work. Those employed with airport subcontractors, which provide passenger assistance, cleaning, baggage handling and other services, often make low wages, work long hours on their feet and find themselves in hostile work environments.
Workers in Boston, Massachusetts have been speaking out in an effort to change this and improve their jobs with passenger service contractors at Logan International Airport. On Tuesday, contract workers will be joining community organizations in briefing state legislators about the sweatshop-like conditions created by the service subcontractors, and to propose policy solutions to improve working conditions. The forum will also feature testimony from the National Employment Law Project, a non-profit organization that analyzes employment policies of local, state and federal government authorities.
Earlier this month at a Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) Board meeting, workers were provided the rare opportunity to testify about unstable hours, struggling to get by on minimum or sub-minimum wage, and safety concerns.
"I cannot afford insurance anymore. The work is too much for such low pay," said Milka Santana, an aircraft cleaner for G2, one of the subcontractors at Logan. After 5 years of working at the airport, Milka earns just $9 an hour with no benefits or medical insurance.
David Mackey, interim CEO and executive director for Massport, told the workers he was moved by their statements at the meeting, while Richard Davey, the department of transportation secretary for the state, suggested that Massport should "begin talking to subcontractors immediately" about addressing working conditions.
In December, the Boston City Council passed a resolution that would ask Massport to investigate and ensure that contracted workers receive fair wages and benefits. The Revere City Council passed a similar resolution on February 13th, calling on Massport to "take all necessary actions to ensure that the contracted employees at Logan Airport receive a living wage, fair benefits, and have a right to dignity, respect and a voice at work."
Workers at Logan have been speaking out about working conditions since last year, when they formed the Lift Off Coalition with SEIU Local 615 and other Massachusetts community, labor and religious groups.
Read more about the workers at Logan Airport in The Boston Globe.