Airport Workers At IAH Want A Piece Of The Pie
by: Bill Stamps, May 15, 2012 5:05:00 pm
Leader: "We’re here today calling upon the airlines."
Crowd response: "We’re here today calling upon the airlines."
Leader: "Airport contractors ... "
Crowd response: "Airport contractors ... "
Twenty or so passenger service workers, wearing black t-shirts, rally in the middle of Terminal C as passengers go about their business trying to catch a flight.
They aren’t unionized, but local union leader Tyler French is hoping they will be soon.
"Workers are waking up. Workers are fed up. They’ve decided that they’re not going to take poverty level wages any more. They’re not going to live paycheck to paycheck while we’re in this grand structure occupied by airlines that combined make billions and billions of dollars in profit. Is that fair?"
Passenger service workers are the skycabs, service attendants, ramp employees, and even people like Annishia Anderson who pushes wheelchairs for passengers who need it.
"We take them off the plane, take them to either their connecting flight, or their family."
Anderson says she makes minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, but she also gets tips, depending on the generosity of the passenger. Still she says it’s hard to make ends meet.
Union representative Laurie Couch says the airlines and their CEO’s are making big bucks and these workers deserve their fair share.
"What the workers here are here to say is that if you work full time you should absolutely be able to support you and your family, that’s what America is supposed to be."
Some people might say pushing a wheelchair isn’t a job that should be paid more than minimum wage. Anderson says it’s the best she can do right now.
"I’ve got my associates degree in child care and it doesn’t pay any better than what I make here."
The workers and the union are asking the city to pass an ordinance that requires all contractors to pay workers a certain amount. Unless that happens, they say even if the current contractor pays them more money, the next time negotiations come around, another contractor will underbid and win the contract due to lower labor costs.