Kenney on Potential Airport Strike: Workers Deserve a Living Wage

Airport workers voted on Tuesday to walk off the job during the DNC.

Jim Kenney | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Jim Kenney | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Tuesday night, airport workers voted to strike during the Democratic National Convention at the end of July, and Mayor Kenney released a statement Wednesday afternoon completely in favor of the workers’ rights to unionize and be paid a living wage.

“There is no question that these workers deserve a living wage, paid leave and the right to form a union without interference from their employer,” Kenney said in the statement.

The Mayor also recognized the role of airport workers in developing Philadelphia’s “world-class” airport. He said: “Baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, airplane cleaners, and other subcontracted Airport employees have helped PHL emerge as a world-class airport and American Airlines as one of the nation’s premiere carriers for travelers.”

The mid-atlantic chapter of SEIU 32BJ, a union of party service workers, has been trying to unionize airport workers around workers’ interests in more efficient scheduling, disciplinary and sick pay systems.

A date for the strike has not been reported, and it isn’t clear how the strike will affect the Democratic National Convention and the 50,000 attendees who are expected to travel to Philadelphia for the event.

“While we don’t anticipate these demonstrators will interfere with Airport service during the DNC, the fact does not make these working conditions any less of an issue,” Kenney stated, “Supporting these workers is not just the right thing to do for the DNC, it’s the right thing to do. We urge the subcontractors to step up for its employees.”

This isn’t the first time Mayor Kenney has spoken up about fair wages for airport employees. In May, he proposed extending the reach of the city’s Living Wage Ordinance to 1,200 workers by allowing merchants to increase the prices of their concessions. A price increase to 10 percent above “street pricing” at airport concessions would bring in more revenue to support living wages for workers.

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