On Friday, June 17, passenger service workers at Sea-Tac Airport launched their campaign for their first new contract since COVID disrupted the air travel industry. Wheelchair agents, cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, and other passenger service workers are uniting to stabilize their jobs after mass layoffs and reductions in hours.
“Many of my coworkers want to work full time but companies do not schedule them full time. The employers expect full availability from workers and even require mandatory holdovers. But how can workers take care of our families with unpredictable schedules and short paychecks? Even Sea-Tac is getting too expensive and airport workers are moving further out.” —Saba Belachew, SEIU6 Executive Board Member & SeaTac Airport Worker
Sea-Tac passenger service workers have provided vital services on the frontlines of a global pandemic—all while having inadequate sick days and health insurance. A recent SEIU6 survey revealed 33% of passenger service workers are on Medicaid and another 27% are uninsured. Over 400 passenger service workers will go into bargaining for full time hours and better benefits as air travel rebounds and ticket prices soar.
“It gives the appearance of a two-tiered system, with predominately immigrants and people of color doing essential work for these contractors who don’t provide secure schedules or adequate benefits, and the airlines just looking away. Luckily, this is the group of workers who won the nation’s first $15 an hour minimum wage, so they know how to band together and demand more.” —SEIU6 President Zenia Javalera