TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Local airport workers in Tampa Bay are speaking out and demanding better wages.
Dozens of airport service workers and union representatives held a protest Tuesday at Tampa International Airport. With Thanksgiving around the corner, they held a “turkey-less” Thanksgiving dinner at the airport to symbolize their own struggles to put food on the table.
Although they work at the airport, the workers are employed by private contractors and the airlines.
“Contractors we are making millions of dollars profit off of our backs,” said one worker.
“It’s been terrible. For example, for all these years, I’ve been making the same salary, $9 an hour. About a year ago, they raised it 5 cents. That’s all I got,” said Gladys Perez, who has worked at the airport in security for 18 years. “I’m 71 years old and I can’t retire because of my low pay, and my family depends on me.”
“The airline industry, which received a $54 billion sweetheart bailout through the CARES Act, has been under fire for record delays, cancellations, massive layoffs, and labor shortages. Meanwhile, many airlines and their contractors are squeezing their workers and have refused to make airport jobs more competitive by offering living wages and even the most basic benefits like paid sick days,” according to a news release from 32BJ SEIU and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). “Airlines rely on airport contractors to provide key services like wheelchair agents, baggage handlers, skycaps, and other positions. These contractors compete vigorously with each other to see who will win the lowest bid contract, which has resulted in plummeting wages and disappearing benefits.”
”Airport workers represented by 32BJ SEIU and other locals under the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are fighting back and have won local living wage standards, benefits, and union recognition for 32,000 airport workers. But because of local politics and state preemption laws, like in Florida, airport workers in some states earn living wages and benefits, while others are barely surviving,” the group sent in a news release.
Tampa International Airport sent the following statement:
“The Service Employees International Union does not represent employees who work for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which operates Tampa International Airport. The Union does represent some employees who work for tenants that do business at TPA. Members of the media may reach out to those tenant companies directly to request comments or interviews.”