July 7, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Los Angeles’ Mayor, Eric Garcetti, intervened in contract negotiations with airport workers and contractors to help stave off a potential strike just days before the busy July 4 travel weekend. Jacob Hay of SEIU United Service Workers West said the new contract is a big victory for 2,500 LAX workers. (Photo courtesy of Talia Reyes)
According to Hay, the 2,500 members who works as ticket agents, baggage handlers and cabin cleaners were able to protect their family healthcare benefits and win wage increases in a contract that expires on October 31, 2016.
“They were able to protect their family healthcare and even won new flexible healthcare options that will benefit younger workers. And the contract also provides a path to $15 an hour over the life of the agreement of three years,” said Hay.
Hay noted it’s a big victory for the LAX workers because the contract’s wage increase to $15 an hour is occurring in the context of growing income inequality and Congress failing to pass a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour.
“It’s a key wage increase at a time when a lot of underpaid workers around the city and country have been fighting for higher wages,” Hay said.
He also noted that the political environment in Los Angeles played a key role in helping the workforce win a new contract without striking.
“The mayor got involved to bring the sides together; he’s been supportive of campaigns for good jobs around the city, which is consistent with his vision for what the airport should be. LAX is the fourth biggest employer in the region, so it has a big impact on jobs in the city.”
The airlines used to directly employ workers to perform security, cleaning and passenger services before outsourcing them to contractors such as G2 Secure Staff and AirServ. AirServ is also a contractor at New York’s JFK and LaGuardia Airports where airport workers, organized by 32BJ SEIU, have been trying to win higher wages and healthcare coverage.
Hay said if AirServ can pay higher wages in Los Angeles, they can do it in New York City.
“We’ve been pointing out that Delta made a record profit of $2.7 billion last year, and the industry is expected to make a record profit of $19 billion this year. The airlines are wildly profitable,” Hay said.
The victory in Los Angeles should hearten New York airport workers.
“Keep organizing and protesting,” said Hay.