Warren, Markey, García Introduce Legislation to Boost Pay and Benefits for Airport Workers
Good Jobs for Good Airports Act Would Improve Job Quality for Thousands of Cleaners, Wheelchair Agents, Baggage Handlers, Concessionaires, and Security Personnel
Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Jesús G. “Chuy'' García (D-Ill.) introduced the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act, legislation that would provide airport workers with the pay, benefits, and labor standards they deserve after serving on the frontlines of the nation’s aviation system and keeping airports safe through a global pandemic, climate disasters, and peak travel seasons. In the face of ongoing health risks, airport service workers – including cleaners, wheelchair agents, baggage handlers, concessionaires, and security personnel – continue to play an essential role in keeping Americans moving. This legislation would improve job quality for hundreds of thousands of airport service workers – a largely Black, Brown, and immigrant workforce – by setting minimum wage and benefits levels at all major airports that receive federal funding.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Sean Casten (D-Ill.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Donald Payne Jr. (D-N.J.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), David Trone (D-Md.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) consponsored the legislation.
The legislation also serves to improve the overall quality of the nation’s airports and provide passengers with safe, reliable air travel. Studies show that fairly compensating airport service workers with a living wage and benefits improves airport services and security by lowering turnover and ensuring that airports have an experienced workforce to serve passengers and respond to emergencies.
“Airport service workers are essential workers who help keep our country’s transportation systems safe and running, even during a global pandemic – but far too often, they aren’t paid fairly for their crucial work,” said Senator Warren. “The Good Jobs for Good Airports Act will help make sure that airport service workers finally get the compensation they deserve. I’m glad to partner with Senator Markey on this legislation.”
“Working people are the engines of our economy, and they’re rising up to demand the dignity and compensation they deserve for their essential labor,” said Senator Markey. “Airport service workers have kept Americans moving safely through two years of a global pandemic, so as our airports begin to recover, we can’t let the status quo fly. My legislation demands that any airport that receives federal funding puts its own workers in first class by fairly boosting their benefits and wages. From baggage handlers at Boston Logan to cleaners at Houston Hobby, hundreds of thousands of airport service workers across the country are long overdue for a raise.”
“Every single day, airport workers make it possible for over a million Americans to travel by air, handling bags, staffing concessions and kitchens, and providing security so people can do business, go on vacation, or see loved ones without a hitch,” said Leader Schumer. “This vital work makes air travel possible, and the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act would ensure that the men and women who keep the wind under the wings of the air travel industry are paid a living wage. The pandemic shed a light on the necessity of these essential workers in supporting the health care system, shuttling essential supplies, and more, and I was proud to champion $5 billion in the Payroll Support Program for employees of airport contractors, but these workers need the long-term solution of fair wages and benefits that the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act provides.”
“Airport workers risked their own health and the safety of their families to keep America moving during the pandemic. The least we can do is ensure they have good wages, decent benefits, and safe working conditions,” said Congressman García. “Poverty wages don’t fly, and our legislation ensures that airport workers nationwide get the same benefits and wages that workers fought for and won at Chicago’s airports and others across the country.”
“Frontline workers at our nation’s airports deserve living wages and fair benefits. Their hard work and resilience kept transportation hubs running through the darkest days of the pandemic and continues to serve travelers as they return to the skies," said Senator Blumenthal. "As essential employees, airport workers including security personnel, service vendors, and baggage handlers deserve adequate compensation and protections like those already provided to some of these workers in states like Connecticut. I’m proud to join this effort to support the backbone of our transportation network."
“Airport service workers – a workforce made of largely Black, Brown, and immigrant laborers – have faced worsening workplace conditions for years, as the airline industry has steadily cut benefits and opportunities for wheelchair attendants, baggage handlers, and caterers. I’ve fought for years to improve conditions for these workers, and I’m proud to support the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act which will help make sure that these frontline workers receive the pay, benefits, and safe working conditions they deserve,” said Senator Booker.
“Essential workers are the backbone of America,” said Senator Padilla. “Amidst a global pandemic, airport service workers have kept travelers safe, but their pay and benefits often do not reflect their difficult work and sacrifice. This is why I’m cosponsoring the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act to finally give our essential workers the compensation and dignity they deserve.”
“Our airports – and the workers that keep them going – are vital to our nation’s economy, moving millions of people and goods to different destinations every day. It’s past time this workforce received the pay, benefits, and working conditions they deserve. That’s why I’m fighting for this legislation to secure improved wages, benefits and labor standards for our airport employees,” said Senator Van Hollen.
The Good Jobs for Good Airports Act would:
- Prevent small, medium, and large hub airports from accessing federal funds unless airport service workers are paid the prevailing wage and benefits as established by the Department of Labor;
- Require airports to ensure that service workers employed by vendors (such as restaurants and retail stores) are paid the prevailing wage and benefits;
- Apply to $11 billion in airport funding each year, including $3.2 billion in Airport Improvement Program grants, $3.5 billion airports receive from passenger facility charges, and $4 billion in funds under the bipartisan infrastructure law.
The Good Jobs for Good Airports Act is endorsed by SEIU, CWA, Unite Here, the Transportation Workers Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Association of Machinists, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, 32BJ SEIU, SEIU Local 1, SEIU USWW, SEIU 6, SEIU Local 49, SEIU Local 26, SEIU Local 105, and SEIU Texas.
“Workers like me are on the frontlines of making our airports run. This legislation is nothing short of life-changing for people like me. It will finally stabilize air travel by fixing staffing shortages, reducing turnover, and ensuring there is ample, trained staff driving a safe and secure aviation system,” said Ababuti Oloki, Skycap, Boston Logan Airport. “And let's be clear who this will help most: Black, Brown, and immigrant workers. I am proud to stand today in support of this bill, now, let’s get it done!”
“Airports keep us all connected, and it's airport workers that keep our airports running. Yet right now, a worker’s ZIP code and background determine whether they can support their family,” said Mary Kay Henry, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “Congress has the power to ensure that the billions of public dollars that fund airports annually serve WE the people, not airline CEOs and shareholders. Today, champions like Senator Markey and Representative Garcia are acting on that power, heeding workers’ demands for change.”
“Improving wages and benefits for frontline aviation workers would address issues across the industry such as high turnover rates, high occupational fatigue and stress, and persistent high overtime rates as a result of understaffing,” said James McKnight, President, Communications Workers of America, Local 3146 in Miami, Florida. “The Good Jobs for Good Airports bill would benefit essential workers, the flying public, and the entire aviation industry.”
Senator Warren is a national leader for workers’ rights and protections:
- In June 2022, Senators Warren, Booker, and Sanders and Representatives Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Amazon, demanding answers about the company’s proposed worker chat application, which reportedly would ban workers from using certain words and phrases, restricting their ability to discuss their working conditions and basic legal rights, including unionization.
- In May 2022, Senator Warren and Representatives Bush and Ocascio-Cortez sent a letter to Amazon, blasting the company for its lackluster responses and failure to answer their questions from their letter in December 2021 about the circumstances and policies that led to the collapse of an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois that killed six workers.
- In March 2022, Senators Warren, Sanders, Booker, and Blumenthal, and Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Bush sent a letter to the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, urging them to investigate Amazon’s “Attendance Points Policy”, which punishes workers for taking legally-protected leave.
- In February 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Schedules that Work Act to help ensure that low-wage employees have more certainty about their work schedules and income.
- In February 2022, Senator Warren and Representatives Schakowsky, DeLauro, Lee, Pressley, and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) reintroduced the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act to strengthen protections for part-time workers and allow them to better balance their work schedules with personal and family needs.
- In December 2021, Senator Warren and Representatives Cori Bush and Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Amazon, demanding answers about the circumstances and failure in safety policies that led to the death of six employees after an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois collapsed during a tornado.
- In April 2020, Senator Warren and Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) unveiled an Essential Workers Bill of Rights to protect frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes universal paid sick leave and family and medical leave.
- Senator Warren is an original cosponsor of the 2020 PAID Leave Act, legislation that would provide universal paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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