No matter where we are from or the color of our skin, everyone who works hard should be able to make ends meet, spend time with loved ones, and go to the doctor when they are sick. But contracted airport workers at the City of Houston’s major airports are working longer hours for lower wages because greedy airlines like United have rigged the rules against them.
George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) serves as a gateway for visitors to our vibrant and fast-growing city. United Airlines has 77 percent market share at IAH and depends on airport workers and our taxpayer-funded airport to make their billions in profits, but the thousands of airport service workers who make the airport run are struggling to make ends meet. A recent survey of more than 300 contracted service workers, including skycaps, wheelchair attendants and cabin cleaners found that 43 percent of those surveyed are paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and 96 percent make less than $11 an hour. Ninety-four percent of the workers surveyed say they do not make enough to support themselves and their families.
It doesn’t have to be this way. At dozens of the nation’s top airports, including those in Denver, Chicago, Newark, and Los Angeles, mayors and other elected officials have stood with airport workers in recent years to create policies that raise wages, improve jobs standards, and allow workers the right to join together in a union. By speaking out and taking action, 140,000 airport workers nationwide have won raises and other life-changing benefits, 30,000 have won a union with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and 114,000 have won a path to $15 an hour.
IAH is the second largest U.S. hub for United Airlines, yet it is the only United hub in the country that has not established a path to $15 an hour for airport employees. In fact, the current minimum wage at IAH – $7.25 an hour – is less than half of that set by most of the six other hubs. United, which has received $216 million in subsidies from the City of Houston since 2011, must lead the way and agree to the same wages and benefits offered to workers at the other major airports where it operates.
Today in Houston, baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners and other airport workers are coming together from all walks of life to urge elected officials to stand with us and call on airlines and their contractors to pay all airport workers at Bush and Hobby airports at least $15 an hour and respect workers’ right to form a union – just like they have at other major airports across the country.
Wage Standards at United’s U.S. Hubs
* Through their union contract many workers will make at least $15 an hour ahead of the policy schedule