Eliana Gayle-Schneider,

Issued July 20, 2023

SEIU’s Henry: As FAA Reauthorization Passes House, Senate Must Write In Airport Service Workers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mary Kay Henry, International President of the two-million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), released the following statement Thursday in response to the House passage of the FAA Reauthorization bill:

The House of Representatives is failing workers and travelers alike with their version of FAA Reauthorization, which doesn’t ensure good jobs for airport service workers who are the foundation of the system. We can’t fix the dysfunctional U.S. travel system without centering working class people. You may not always see them, but air travel simply would not be possible without the over 300,000 blue-collar airport service workers who clean planes, haul baggage, work on the tarmac, escort passengers and secure our airports. It’s ridiculous that despite making up two in five airline industry workers, the House has excluded this essential Black, brown and immigrant-powered workforce from their version of their bill.

That’s why airport service workers, the White House and our allies have been demanding established minimum wage and benefit standards to help fix the chaos and dysfunction in U.S. air travel. Good jobs with fair wages, affordable health care and paid time off would help reduce turnover and build a more experienced workforce, thereby reducing the chaos travelers experience daily.

The House bill was written by and for corporations – not working people. For too long, our air travel system has been rigged in favor of airlines that have accepted billions in federal funds yet failed to make sure those funds fuel good jobs. They’re making record-breaking revenues while travelers and workers alike get left behind. It’s time airlines were held accountable for cleaning up this mess by ensuring fair wages and benefits for the workforce that our nation depends on to stay connected.

The Senate still has an opportunity to chart a different path. Airport service workers are the backbone of our nation’s airports and the key to a stronger, safer and more equitable air travel system. Until Congress ensures the fair wages and benefits they need, the chaos and dysfunction plaguing our airports is sure to continue. Our more than two million members are watching to see who takes the side of working people over corporations.”

Background on Airport Service Workers’ Good Jobs for Good Airports Demand

Airport service workers have been calling on Congress to include the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act’s wage and benefit standards in the upcoming FAA Reauthorization, which would ensure that airport service workers are paid fair wages and receive benefits like affordable health care and paid time off. Airport service workers at approximately 64 covered airports would be supported through the established wage and benefits standards, putting money back into hundreds of local economies and helping families thrive.

At present, women and people of color are more likely to be underpaid and often hold the lowest-paying service jobs within U.S. airports. What’s more, many airport service workers’ wages have barely budged in the last 20 years. Ensuring fair wages and benefits for the Black, brown and immigrant workforce powering our air travel system is not only key to solving the chaos and dysfunction plaguing airports nationwide, but also key to addressing the racial wealth gap and advancing racial and disability justice.