Airport workers ‘sick and tired’ of marches and strikes – Could this be hampering holiday travel?

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Airport service workers from more than 15 airports organized strikes and rallied on Capitol Hill on December 8 for a national day of action. The goal? Call on Congress to pass the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act ahead of a busy holiday season.

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The workers in question included those who clean planes, handle baggage and assist passengers in wheelchairs – and nationwide activity was planned at airports controlling 45% of all US domestic air travel and 65% of all US travel via major hubs, according to a press release.

They were joined by members of Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, senses. Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García and Eleanor Holmes Norton, as well as SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry and other allies.

“Airport workers like me and workers in all sectors of the economy are fed up. Without us, no one would be able to travel safely to visit family during the holidays,” Verna Montalvo, cabin cleaner at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with SEIU, said in the statement. “Seeing smiles on passengers’ faces gives me a huge sense of pride, but it comes at a huge cost when I can’t support my own family on starvation wages. Airports connect us all – and it’s time the jobs for those of us who keep airports safe, clean and running are good jobs you can actually thrive on. Congress needs to step up and pass the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act.

Senator Markey introduced the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act in June to increase wages and benefits for airport workers, legislation “that will improve conditions for hundreds of thousands of largely blacks, browns and immigrants,” according to a statement from the senator.

“Airport service workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic at airports across the country to ensure we arrive safely at our destination – they need fair wages and good benefits. Congress needs to pass my Good Jobs for Good Airports Act to achieve this,” Markey tweeted Dec. 8.

Last summer was a chaotic and frustrating travel season, with thousands of flights canceled or delayed, in part due to a lack of staff. Now airport workers are being blamed and being asked to double their duties, according to a statement.

“We don’t have enough paid holidays. We are supposed to have a week of paid sick leave. But we’re so understaffed that it’s almost impossible for you to take a sick day,” Omar Rodriguez, a ramp agent and cabin cleaner employed by contractor Swissport USA, said in the statement. “We are blamed for the delays, but we only have a few minutes to clean up and we don’t have enough staff to do the job,” Rodriguez added. “No one wants to stay because the salary and benefits are not enough for what we are doing.”

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So far in 2022, 1,042,056 flights have been delayed and 139,683 have been cancelled, according to data from the Department of Transport.

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This article originally appeared on Airport workers ‘sick and tired’ of marches and strikes – Could this be hampering holiday travel?

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