Airport operations were not disrupted by the labor action overnight Tuesday which was directed at the firm that manages two major airports in the metro-DC area.
The protests that hit Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) beginning Tuesday evening had very little to do with national politics. Organizers say the “sleep-in” held just minutes from the seat of the U.S. government institutions, was conceived to bring attention to unfair labor conditions at the airport.
Representatives of the 32BJ Service Employees International Union (SEIU) told the Washington Post in a statement, many of the members it represents at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and DCA are among the ranks of the working poor. The SEIU said that some of its members “can’t afford rent or transportation to and from work“ despite long hours and they “lack the time to go home between shifts and other jobs.”
32BJ SEUI has grown increasingly more aggressive in its negotiations with airports across the US in recent months. In July, union officials successfully organized a vote that called for a walkout at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) scheduled to disrupt travel to the Democratic National Convention. In late 2015, the union organized a walkout at seven US airports over the busy holiday travel season.
In addition to the overnight sleep-in at DCA, officials organized a similar protest Wednesday morning focusing attention on a meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the organization that manages both DCA and IAD. The union’s campaign centered around both union and non-union workers at US Airports is part of an effort officials call “Airport Workers United.”
“Around the country, contracted airport workers are coming together in Airport Workers United, a movement of workers and their allies, raising their voices for $15 and union rights to make our airports safe and secure for passengers, employees and our communities,” 32BJ SEUI explains on it website. “Today, more than 70,000 workers nationwide have either received wages increases or other improvements, including healthcare, paid sick leave and worker retention policies as a result of the workers’ campaign.”
[Photo: Julie Karant/SEIU]