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March 30, 2016

Workers for two Philadelphia International Airport subcontractors go on strike

Employees set to protest over wages

Protests Unions
Airport Strike Brian Hickey/PhillyVoice

Workers on strike rally outside Philadelphia International Airport on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

Employees for two subcontractors at Philadelphia International Airport went on strike Wednesday night.

The 32BJ Service Employees International Union said in a press release that workers for PrimeFlight and McGinn Security will picket outside the departure side of Terminal B/C because the companies have not been paying them a required $12-an-hour minimum wage.

The strike comes after a similar demonstration set for earlier this month was postponed because workers decided to hold a vigil in honor of those killed during a terrorist attack at the Brussels Airport.

Wednesday's protest will run concurrently with similar events at airports in New York City, Boston, Washington D.C. and elsewhere to draw attention to not only wages but health and safety concerns.

Last July, the city signed a new lease with PHL that mandates the $12 wage for all airport employees.

But Primeflight and McGinn have not paid all their employees at the required rate since the lease went into effect.

In November, then-mayor-elect Jim Kenney spoke at one of the union's protest, chiding the companies who were not complying — including PrimeFlight and McGinn.

“We passed a law requiring a $12-an-hour wage and they’re going to follow that law come Jan. 4, 2016. Things are going to change around here. … We’ll have your back," he said, referring to his inauguration date.

The Philadelphia Business Journal notes that Kenney at one point went as far as to say he'd evict companies who did not pay the going wage.

While spokesperson Lauren Hitt told the Journal that Kenney was committed to ensuring fair wages for airport workers, the administration seemed to back off the promise of eviction.

Picket lines were scheduled to go up at 9 p.m. Wednesday, and a press conference is slated for 7 a.m. Thursday, with a rally scheduled at the terminal at noon. Elected officials, including State Rep. Jason Dawkins and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady are expected to be present.

Email requests for comment from PrimeFlight and McGinn were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.