The Planned Airport Strike During the DNC Has Been Averted

The local union says efforts by Mayor Kenney and Gov. Wolf led it to call off the strike.

PHL | flickr

Philadelphia International Airport | Photo via Flickr

There will be no airport strike during the Democratic National Convention this week, according to a statement released Friday evening by Gabe Morgan, the Pennsylvania director of 32BJ Service Employees International Union.

Last Tuesday, hundreds of airport workers and supporters protested along airport roadways, demanding $15 an hour in wages and changes to the discipline and sick pay systems, among other things. The workers and supporters rallied in part to give the country a preview of how they would organize during the DNC, which is set to begin on Monday, when the nation’s gaze would be on Philadelphia.

But according to 32BJ SEIU, which has long been trying to organize the airport’s baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, wheelchair handlers and security guards, efforts by Mayor Jim Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf this week led the group to call off the strike.

“We thank Mayor Kenney and Governor Wolf for convening meetings between American Airlines and 32BJ SEIU,” Morgan said in a statement. “American Airlines has committed to ensuring that subcontracted workers have a fair process to form their union.”

32BJ SEIU says it will work with American Airlines over the next few days to “reach an agreement where workers’ rights are respected and the airport runs smoothly,” the statement said.

During last Tuesday’s strike, hundreds of members from 32BJ SEIU were bused into Philadelphia as part of the national “Fight for 15” movement, and local clergy leaders and elected officials also joined the demonstration that traveled from Terminals A through F.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Mayor Kenney and Governor Wolf on behalf of workers,” Morgan said. “We are moved by the clergy members of POWER who, just yesterday, took arrest to defend workers’ rights. We are grateful for the incredible outpouring of support from DNC delegates across the country and the leadership of Congressman Bob Brady.”

American Airlines says there will be further meetings this coming week. In a statement, American Airlines Vice President Cedric Rockamore said, “[We] would like to thank Governor Wolf, Mayor Kenney, Congressman Brady, Councilman Henon, Airport CEO Chellie Cameron and her team at the division of aviation, our airport business partners and SEIU for working together to maintain continued harmony at the airport during the Democratic National Convention and thereafter.”

Beginning this weekend, the airline says it expects nearly 8,000 delegates and about 50,000 convention attendees to be traveling to Philadelphia.

“Our focus is on giving all of our customers the best possible service and travel experience,” Rockamore said.

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