SEIU Airport Victory Shows Power of Worker Movements

Members of Service Employees International Union, Local 32B, during a parade on Sixth Avenue, New York City. (Creative Commons.)

By Doug Cunningham

Workers Independent News is heard Monday through Friday after the 6 and 11 p.m. news on 97.9 WHAV.

Workers Independent News is heard Monday through Friday after the 6 and 11 p.m. news on 97.9 WHAV.

Eight thousand New York/New Jersey airport workers are voting this week to ratify a new union contract as members of Service Employees International Union, Local 32B.

This victory came after five years of organizing struggle.

“The approach we took was different than what people would see in normal bargaining because these are subcontracted,” said Rob Hill, vice president of 32 BJ SEIU, and directs organizing for the union.

“The history of these workers is that these were once good full-time jobs and then the airlines contracted them out. And then by forcing contractors to bid against each other they’ve lowered the wages, because each contractor undercuts the other,” he added. “And so the approach we took is that the way we want to raise wages is to get the port authorities—in this case the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey—and government to raise the wage for those workers and set a standard that everybody has to bid equally on. And at the same time we want to protect all that in a contract, which is what we did.”

Hill says is significant for workers all over America because it shows what’s still possible with a strong movement of workers.

“It shows that the Fight For $15 has caught on. And 20 million people have received raises as a result of that fight. And I encourage more people who are working in low-end jobs to get involved in it. And now we’ve shown that you can also win the union. And the union helps win the wages but it’s also a way to protect your job, to have a voice on the job, to be able to address issues of health and safety—a whole host of issues that workers normally have no voice on—they now have a voice because they have a contract.”

Hotel Workers: Boycott Trump Hotels Until He Obeys Labor Law

Just days before the November election, the National Labor Relations Board ordered Trump Hotel Las Vegas to stop breaking labor law and negotiate with workers who voted to join the Culinary Workers union.

Culinary Workers spokesperson Bethany Hahn, speaking on WBAI’s Building Bridges program, said the president-elect continues to disrespect both his workers and federal law by refusing to bargain with those workers. The Culinary Workers Union is calling for a boycott of all Trump hotels and golf courses.

“The workers are fighting for fair wages, job security, good health benefits. And the president-elect, his company pays three dollars (an hour) less than other union workers in Las Vegas. They want a contract. We’re never going to stop fighting. And every day we’re going to get stronger. There’s going to be protests and rallies,” Hahn said. “And actually the Culinary Union has called for a national boycott of hotels and golf courses and businesses that do business with Mr. Trump.”