RESPECT + CONNECT MEETINGS HELP BUILD A HEALTHY WORKPLACE
After tensions over COVID safety and other issues at ERMC, cabin cleaners and management came together to hold the first of a series of informal meetings they hope will build trust and a healthier working environment. Called “Respect +Connect Meetings,” these talks between coworkers and managment aim to solve problems before they turn into crises.
“We started this meeting to build the relationship between workers and management so we can understand each other. We’re asking to be respected—no matter who you are or where you come from. We are a multicultural workforce and many of us speak English as a second language. The key is communication and respect.”
Want to start a Connect + Respect meeting at your airport worksite? Call Marilyn Coronell at 206-448- 7348 ext 324.
COVID safety measures were so inadequate for some Sea-Tac cabin cleaners that they had to do something. Workers faced crowded vans, crowded breakrooms, and company secrecy surrounding positive COVID cases.
After uniting around these issues and holding labor management meetings, cabin cleaners have been able to push the companies to adopt stronger worker protections. Workers speaking out played a major role, breaking the story in our newsletter, on social media, in the news and even before Congress. Selam Andarge deserves respect for testifying about her working conditions to the United States House Ways and Means Committe. Likewise, Sadia Bultum (pictured above), spoke out to CNN Travel.
“We need rules,” Bultum told CNN. “Like, avoid close contact employee-to- employee. Respect the rule of 6ft distance. Let the employees know if we’re exposed so we can quarantine. Keep the breakroom clean and our areas clean and disinfected.”
Passenger service employees of G2 Secure Staff, ABM Aviation, and Huntleigh voted to unite under one master contract at SeaTac Airport, ratifying the contract by a margin of 106-1 on Tuesday, July 24, 2018.
The new contract negotiated by a bargaining team covers over 800 workers such as wheelchair agents, cabin cleaners, sky caps, baggage handlers, ramp agents, and others. Gains in the new contract include 5 extra days of paid time off, a requirement for employers to pay out sick leave for workers transferring to another SEIU6 union job, the creation of a labor management committee to resolve workplace disputes, a requirement for employers to provide protective equipment at no cost to employees, and new unpaid extended leave. The extended leave will allow workers to take off up to 90 days during the slow season and return to their jobs with seniority and pay rate intact.
“I knocked on about 100 doors fighting for Proposition 1, and what we thought was impossible we actually made possible. With this new contract, we keep uniting to make things better. We’ll get more job stability because it limits arbitrary write-ups. And in my opinion, the best part is the 90 days unpaid extended leave. It’s a win-win because the employers want to reduce hours in the slow season, and workers whose families live abroad will have enough time to make the trip.” —Bargaining Team Member Saba Belachew
“The quality of life for airport workers will increase with this new collective bargaining agreement. A lot of people come through SeaTac and don’t pay attention to the workers, but we’re coming together in our union trying to create a balance, and push for a better future.” —SEIU6 Passenger Service Worker and Bargaining Team Member Juan Maldonado
Wheelchair pushers, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, and other passenger service providers are part of the core group of workers who achieved the historic $15/hour minimum wage at SeaTac. These workers—who had been earning around
$9/hour when the campaign began, not only significantly raised their own standard of living, but also sparked a national movement.
Now it’s time for passenger service workers to come
together again to fight for a better contract. Among the issues likely to be tackled are workplace improvements surrounding seniorty and bidding for shifts, and protections for workers who wish to take extended leave.
Stay tuned for updates and calls-to-action on this important campaign!
Call Elsa for more information: 206-448-7348 ext. 317
The ballots have been counted by the National Labor Relations Board, and the results are official: hundreds of Sea-Tac Airport workers have won a union — the latest victory by airport workers organizing to rise up out of poverty wages and lift their community.
“My co-workers and I voted for the union because we deserve to have good jobs,” says Jennifer Keni, an employee at Bags, Inc. and new union member. “When we come together we can make positive changes that lift us all up.”
The vote by workers at Bags, Inc. to join SEIU Local 6 unites more than two hundred workers who are contracted by Alaska Air Group to provide wheelchair and other passenger services for Alaska customers. Like thousands of other poverty-wage workers at our airport, they have been on the leading edge of the movement for $15 an hour and good jobs — and on the leading edge of pushback by the giant airport corporations.
Bags, Inc. itself contributed $10,000 to the losing effort to defeat SeaTac Proposition 1, the Good Jobs Initiative. After Proposition 1 passed, Alaska Airlines — which hires Bags, Inc. to serve its customers — has tried to block its implementation, suing all the way to the State Supreme Court. But Bags workers continued to organize, winning a union in yesterday’s NLRB election.
“Corporations are using their power to push down wages and benefits for workers,” says SEIU Local 6 President Sergio Salinas. Bags, Inc. workers typically work part-time and earn just sixty-eight cents above the minimum wage. These depressed wages make it hard for families to afford the basics, and also slow down the economy because workers cannot afford to maintain basic spending levels. “Today workers have decided to use their power to improve not just their lives but also the local economy,” says Salinas.
Immediately after the votes were counted, Bags workers began signing on to a letter to their employer calling for contract negotiations to take place right away. Union members say they expect management to adhere to Alaska Airlines’ Vendor Code of Labor Standards. Alaska adopted the standards last July, after labor and community groups urged Alaska to take a leadership role in improving working conditions at the airport. The code, to which all vendors must comply or risk losing the business, includes a provision stating that: “Vendor shall respect their employees’ freedom of association and their right to engage in collective bargaining.”
The Seattle International Film Festival announced a contest, sponsored by Alaska Airlines: “Explore. Dream. Discover.” The contest asked community members to make a short film, less than 2 minutes, about how your life is different because of where you’ve traveled. The film had to include shots of Alaska Airlines branding.
“Grounded” is a film produced by airport workers and community allies and submitted by Working Washington to the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival’s “Explore. Dream. Discover” film competition sponsored by Alaska Airlines.
Share the short film that Alaska Airlines executives don’t want you to see, and join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #OurPort!