SEATTLE, Sept. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hundreds of cart drivers, wheelchair agents, cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, unaccompanied minor escorts and lavatory and water service fillers voted today to strike over unfair labor practices at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The workers are part of the nationwide campaign of underpaid airport workers fighting for $15 and union rights. Airport workers need higher standards to keep the nation's airports safe and secure for both passengers and workers.
"We want Sea-Tac to continue to be a world-class airport," says Nolan Lewis, who works on the Interline that brings passengers' luggage through the airport. "But how can that happen if our employer won't even follow the law? We are ready to strike to put an end to the unfair labor practices and wage theft."
Over the last five years, Sea-Tac airport workers have come together with other underpaid workers in the fight for $15 and union rights. In 2013, voters in the city of SeaTac joined with airport workers to raise the minimum wage to $15 in and around the airport. SeaTac voters set the standard by approving the first $15 minimum wage in the country.
Yet Air Serv continues to stand in the way of raising standards in the airport. Air Serv faces a class action lawsuit for retro pay it owes its employees because of its delay in paying the voter-approved minimum wage.
"The time is now for the workers of Sea-Tac to come together and have a voice on the job," says Lewis, whose co-workers voted overwhelmingly to strike.
The Sea-Tac strike takes place amidst record profits for the aviation industry while many airport workers continue to struggle just to get by. Last year alone the airlines received more than $23 billion in profits.
In Seattle, airport workers have gone on strike before. Their actions have resulted in other major contractors coming into compliance with SeaTac's minimum wage law, raising standards, and recognizing airport workers' freedom to form their union without interference. Despite this progress, Delta contractor Air Serv continues to stand in the way of raising standards. Air Serv workers have reported surveillance and intimidation.
The Sea-Tac workers organizing with SEIU Local 6 are part of a growing movement of airport workers across the country calling out the low-bid contracting system that continues to perpetrate similar issues around the country.
Around the country, contracted airport workers are coming together in Airport Workers United, a movement of employees and their allies, raising their voices for $15 an hour and union rights to make our airports safe and secure for passengers, employees and our communities. By sticking together, speaking out for change and going on strike, these employees have won wage increases in Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, N.J., Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. More than 70,000 workers nationwide have received wage increases or other improvements, including healthcare, paid sick leave and worker retention policies as a result of the campaign.
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SOURCE Service Employees International Union