Airport workers from across the country went on a hunger strike Tuesday to protest for better wages and working condition in the lead up to one of the busiest travel days of the year, Thanksgiving.
The demonstration includes airports from across the country. Workers contend they are overworked and don’t get enough pay. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is helping to orchestrate and promote the protest, which is not expected to disrupt holiday travel.
“Terminal cleaners, cabin cleaners, skycaps, wheelchair agents, customer service agents, terminal security officers, ramp workers and baggage handlers who will care for the estimated 25 million passengers traveling this year for Thanksgiving are embarking on a 24-hour fast,” the SEIU said in a press release. “At a time when most Americans celebrate and are grateful for bounty, the men and women who keep our airports running are fasting for $15 and union rights.”
Demonstrations are planned for airports in Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, Denver, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Newark, N.J., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Washington, D.C., Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Workers at Los Angeles International Airport began a day early Monday and plan to go a full three days without food. Officials in Los Angeles are not expecting any problems as a result of the protest.
“This isn’t the first time they’ve done this,” Security Spokesman Robert Pedregon told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They have been very good at following the rules.”
Pedregon noted similar demonstrations have occurred around the same time for the past couple years. Thus far, there have been no problems and none are expected. Airports have strict rules about disrupting normal operations. If something were to occur, Pedregon noted the airport does have backup plans to make sure operations are not disrupted.
“Airport jobs used to be good jobs but the airline industry is driving down wages and quality of service by outsourcing jobs often to irresponsible contractors,” the union press release continued. “This low-road business model has resulted in a system where bottom-feeder contractors have taken over the market, and intimidation and harassment are now routine for these hardworking men and women who play a critical role in keeping passengers safe.”
Other airports are not reporting any problems as well. Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for St. Paul International Airport in Minneapolis, told TheDCNF he has not yet seen any worker demonstrations. He can, however, confirm the SEIU has reserved what is known as a freedom-of-expression booth for Wednesday. The booth is an area set aside for protests and demonstrations designed to not disrupt travel and other operations.
Representatives for Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport told TheDCNF they haven’t even seen any worker demonstrations either. They are also unaware of any planned.
Airport authorities in Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale could not be reached for comment. The SEIU did not respond to a request for comment from TheDCNF.
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