July 11, 2017
Hundreds of newly-unionized Philadelphia International Airport workers are prepared to strike this week if their respective employers do not meet them at the bargaining table.
The workers could strike any day, the Service Employees International Union warned on Tuesday.
Thousands of airport workers across the country could join them, including those at Newark Liberty, LaGuardia, JFK and Denver international airports.
Earlier this year, more than 1,400 Philadelphia airport workers voted to join SEIU 32BJ. They include hundreds of baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants and skycaps employed by PrimeFlight and Prospect – a pair of airport service contractors used by American Airlines.
But the workers claim their employers are refusing to negotiate a contract in hopes that the National Labor Relations Board – expected to return to Republican control for the first time since 2007 – will strip them of their union rights.
"The American people need good jobs, and that means having the opportunity to join together in a union," SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement. “It’s time major airlines support good pay and the opportunity to form a union instead of fighting working people every step of the way."
American Airlines, PrimeFlight and Prospect did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Last summer, the airport workers threatened to walk off the job as the Democratic National Convention came to Philly. They held a large rally calling for the ability to form a union, among other demands.
Mayor Jim Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf helped avert a walkout.