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July 11, 2017

More than 1,000 Philly airport workers to strike Wednesday

Some 1,400 Philadelphia International Airport workers will strike Wednesday morning, an effort aimed at driving their employers to the bargaining table.

UPDATE: Strike suspended at Philadelphia International Airport

They will be joined by thousands of airport workers at Newark Liberty, LaGuardia, JFK and Denver international airports, the Services Employees International Union announced Tuesday night.

The Philadelphia workers 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.

The workers unionized earlier this spring, voting to join SEIU 32BJ. They claim PrimeFlight and Prospect 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.

Picket lines will form at 11:30 a.m. at departure terminals B and C on Wednesday, and remain until 6:30 p.m.

The union also intends to hold a "massive demonstration" at the same terminals at noon Thursday.

The union voted last week to authorize a strike.

"The contractors should be held accountable," PrimeFlight baggage handler Cheryl Henderson said in a statement. "What they're doing is disrespectful for workers and the city. They don't see us as human. We are equipment to them."

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.