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Workers’ Strike at ORD to Have Little Impact on Flight Schedules

Contract workers are taking part in strike action at O’Hare as part of a national protest to raise the minimum wage, but authorities say that the strikes will not impact their operations.

A strike staged by workers on Tuesday at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is unlikely to have an impact on flight schedules, say airport officials.

The Associated Press (AP) reported via the Centre Daily Times that approximately 500 workers were taking part in the strike at ORD. Their protest is part of the National Day of Action to Fight for $15, an initiative that is seeking to raise the national minimum wage to $15 per hour.

USA Today reports that those on strike are not directly employed by the airlines, but instead are third-party contractors, comprised mostly of baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners and janitors.

In addition to striking for a set national minimum wage, it is hoped that this industrial action would gain the workers union rights and protection. While these workers are not currently under union representation, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1, the body that represents service workers in the Chicago area, said that it is supporting workers’ actions.

One worker tweeted, as quoted on the website of the National Day of Action to Fight for $15, that, “We work at O’Hare, one of the biggest airports in the world, but we still live in poverty.”

While those coordinating the protest initially warned of disruption to flights at ORD due to labor action, airline authorities and officials at the Chicago Department of Aviation have denied that the strikes will have an impact on operations.

However, last week a spokeswoman for SEIU told a press conference that disruption was not the impetus behind the strike. She was quoted by CNN as saying that, “They [the workers] […] want to gain public support.”

Both American Airlines and United Airlines, which have hubs at ORD, said that they are working to ensure that the strike causes as little disruption to their schedules as possible.

In a statement, American told the outlet that, “We are working closely with our vendors to ensure there is no disruption to our operation.”

United added that it would be, “taking the necessary steps to ensure a safe and on-time operation for our customers.”

[Photo: Songquan Deng/Shutterstock]

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