WASHINGTON, April 26, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hundreds of contracted service workers at Reagan National Airport and Dulles walked off the job on strike Thursday, to protest federal labor violations charged against their employer, Huntleigh Corporation, including surveilling, interrogating, arbitrarily disciplining a worker and firing a worker for lawfully protected activities.
Just last week, the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority passed a first-of-its kind policy ensuring contractors pay contracted wheelchair agents, checkpoint agents, terminal cleaners, cabin cleaners, sky caps and baggage handlers $12.75 per hour by 2020. Contracted workers previously earned as little as the minimum wage of $7.25.
"I stand with these men and women who are critical to keeping our airports safe, clean and running smoothly," said Virginia Delegate Paul Krizek. "Huntleigh's coercive behavior towards these workers is against the law and has no place at our airports."
"The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority did their part by ensuring workers earn a living wage," said Virginia Delegate Alfonso Lopez. "Now contractors like Huntleigh must allow workers to focus on keeping our airports and passengers safe, rather than worrying about being fired at will."
"The Airport Authority's new living wage will help workers support their families, but only a union can protect these men and women from losing their jobs through no fault of their own," said 32BJ Vice President, Jaime Contreras. "They are striking to try and put an end to law-breaking coercion from employers like Huntleigh."
As passengers continue to demand better treatment in light of recent scandals, workers demand the same. The strike comes on the heels of the United Airlines incident which has renewed focus on the airline industry and the lengths they go to save money. Long before the outcry over the treatment of United passenger David Dao, airport workers across the country have been sounding alarms on a broken, low-bid subcontracting system—yet another cost-cutting effort by the airlines that undermines quality and standards. Meanwhile, the aviation industry is enjoying record profits of more than $23 billion in 2015 alone.
This January, 8,000 workers in New York won a union contract after raising state minimum wage to $15. The growing movement of subcontracted airport workers has won similar wage increases at major airports around the country.
This would be the second time these workers have gone on strike against Huntleigh USA Corporation, which is based in Irving, Texas. At Dulles, the company services: American Airlines, Air China, Air Canada, Air France, Austrian Airlines, Saudia, Emirates, Ethiopian, KLM, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qatar, South African, Avianca, Icelandair, Copa, LATAM Airlines, TACA Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, JetBlue. At DCA Huntleigh airlines include: Jetblue, Virgin America, Southwest, American, Sun Country, Air Canada, Frontier
With more than 155,000 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.
SOURCE SEIU Local 32BJ