Airport workers around the world keep airports clean, help passengers get to their destination, and secure airplanes and ramps. We work hard to keep the airports running, but airlines are taking from us and putting it in their pockets.
Baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, security agents, and other airport workers are joining together across the globe to stand up to the industry that’s holding us back.
I work two jobs at Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. After a 12-hour shift doing conveyor belt maintenance, I work a 4-hour shift as a Baggage Handler with Huntleigh. Even though I have 13 years’ experience at the airport, and even though I work 16 hour days, I’m still not paid enough to afford a decent apartment.
In our nation’s capital, this is simply unacceptable.
That’s why I got involved with SEIU. We should be able to pay our bills stress-free and live comfortably without having to put in these crazy hours. I hardly ever sleep. I want to be able to work 40-50 hours and be able to take care of my needs.
Over the past few years, we’ve been speaking out to make our jobs better and we’re winning. We rallied, we marched and we walked off the job on strike three times fighting for livable wages, to protest allegations of federal labor violations, to improve conditions and to end harassment and intimidation by our employer, the Huntleigh Corporation.
Huntleigh workers used to be paid as little as $6.15 per hour plus unreliable tips! But after we led a two-year campaign undeterred by intense opposition by Huntleigh, the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority passed a policy to ensure contracted workers like us earn a more livable wage.
That victory was huge, but we are still fighting for our union. A living wage won’t help workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. We need a union not just to negotiate for benefits and things we need to care for or families, but for basic job protection. Without a union, we can be fired without cause and without warning.
That’s why we’re taking our movement to the next level. This week, I’m heading to Amsterdam to meet with fellow airport workers from Korea, France, the Netherlands, Thailand, Indonesia, and Germany. Airlines and their contractors have a web of connections around the world. One example is ICTS and Huntleigh. ICTS is a company that owns Huntleigh and provides security for Air France. I’m meeting with ICTS security agents in Europe who are up against the same kind of mistreatment so we can plan how to hold our companies accountable together.
Just like airlines are global, we are global. And when we stand up for each other, there’s no limit to what we can do. In the U.S., 120,000 airport workers have already won raises. If we can make progress here, imagine what we can do for our brothers and sisters across the world.