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O’Hare Airport Workers Announce Intent To Strike During Holiday

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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Workers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport will announce a strike date Monday morning, as the busy Thanksgiving travel weekend kicks off.

While O’Hare’s airplane cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants and janitors are not unionized, the Service Employees International Union is assisting the workers in organizing a strike for higher wages.

The SEIU Local 1 will announce the date of a strike at 10 a.m. Monday morning, threatening to complicate holiday travel operations at the nation’s second busiest airport.

About 500 workers took a vote late last week, and all but one employee were in favor of a strike, according to SEIU spokesperson Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich.

The 500 workers make up about 25 percent of the airport’s 2,000 support staff, revealing that the effort is not resonating with the entire class of employees. Most of the workers threatening to strike are independent contractors, not employees of the city or the airlines, according to Fox News.

Support staff make $8.25 per hour, and the strike announcement is par of the “fight for fifteen,” where low wage workers are demanding a new $15.00 minimum wage.

The workers plan to picker outside the airport and through the terminals once a strike date and time is announced, according to SEIU Local 1 president, Tom Balanoff. The union does not expect to shut down the airport, but Balanoff admitted that “it will cause some disruption, no doubt.”

27 million Americans are expected to travel by air over the Thanksgiving weekend, with hundreds of thousands of those passengers departing, arriving or connecting through O’Hare’s 189 gates. A major holiday strike could prove to be a conundrum for passengers and staff.

The airport’s largest carriers by passenger, United Continental and American Airlines, said that it was taking steps to ensure a safe and on-time operations for our customers, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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