FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, November 17, 2016
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O’Hare Airport Workers, Joined by SEIU Local 1, Chairs of Latino and Progressive Caucuses, along with Community Allies, Announce Potential Strike in Coming Days
Possible strike of hundreds could occur any time in the coming days, disrupt airport operations during busy holiday season
CHICAGO — Today, O’Hare baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, janitors and wheelchair attendants, joined by Chair of the Progressive Reform Caucus Alderman Scott Waguespack (32), Chair of the Latino Caucus George Cardenas (12), SEIU Local 1, and community allies gathered to announce the results of the long-awaited holiday strike vote. Hundreds of O’Hare workers have voted to hold an unfair labor practice strike in the coming days. O’Hare workers have been building their case for $15 and union rights at the world’s fourth-busiest airport, but their employers have responded by retaliating against them. Now, O’Hare workers are ready to take matters into their own hands. A possible unfair labor practice strike has the potential to disrupt what will be a record-breaking holiday travel season.
“I work full time, but I don’t make enough to get by and raise my two daughters,” said Scrub, Inc. Cabin Cleaner Kisha Rivera. “We are sick of talking, we are sick of being retaliated against, and we are ready to take action.”
“For a year now, O'Hare Airport workers have been standing up and telling their stories, fighting for a living wage, better benefits, and higher standards at the airport,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “Now, they’re ready to do whatever it takes to stand up for themselves against the retaliation they’ve faced.”
O’Hare airport workers were also joined by Alderman Ameya Pawar (47), Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), Alderman Anthony Napolitano (41), and Alderman Rick Muñoz (22). Chicago aldermen share airport workers’ concerns that inadequate safety and health standards, along with low wages, high turnover, and insufficient training at our airports put workers in danger and hurt passengers by impacting safety and quality of service. This vote will send a clear message to their employers, Prospect Airport Services, AirServ and Scrub, Inc. as well as the City of Chicago that O’Hare workers will continue to stand-up against retaliation.
Despite helping to generate $8 billion in profits for the airline industry, most O’Hare Airport workers are forced to survive on minimum wage or less. Thursday’s vote comes on the heels of allegations concerning massive wage theft at O’Hare and serious Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) violations that put workers and passengers at risk. O’Hare workers are ready to turn words into action.
Around the country, airport workers are coming together in Airport Workers United, a movement of workers and their allies, raising their voices to make our airports safe and secure for passengers, employees and our communities. Contracted airport workers from major airports serve 393 million passengers yearly. By sticking together and speaking out for change these workers have won wage increases in Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, and Fort Lauderdale. Today, more than 70,000 airport workers nationwide have either received wages increases or other improvements, including health care, paid sick leave and worker retention policies.
SEIU Local 1