December 3, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Chicago, IL – About 500 support workers at O’Hare Airport here staged a one-day strike Nov. 29 to demand a $15-an-hour minimum wage and the right to form a union.
“We’re not asking for special treatment, we’re asking for decent treatment,” cabin cleaner Kisha Rivera, 41, who makes the city’s $10.50 minimum, told the more than 1,000 people at a noon rally at the airport. The strikers, organized by Service Employees International Union Local 1, included baggage handlers, janitors, cabin cleaners, and wheelchair attendants, who are employed by airline subcontractors Scrub, Prospect Airport Services, and Air Serv. Prospect pays wheelchair attendants $7.25 to $8.25, less than the minimum, because they are considered tipped workers, according to the union. ‘I enjoy what I do, but I just can’t support a family and pay a mortgage on $10.50,” gate baggage assistant Oscar Morales, 51, told the Chicago Tribune. Morales, who is married with two teenage children, said he’d lost a better-paying job with benefits when the company closed two years ago. The Chicago protests also included a sit-in outside a McDonald’s where 55 people were arrested. They were among actions in more than 300 cities and at 20 airports nationwide. Read more