BY GINGER JENTZEN, 15 NOW MINNESOTA ORGANIZER
On Monday, Sept. 15, workers at the Minneapolis/St.Paul airport, backed by dozens of community supporters, delivered 1,000 petitions signed by their co-workers to the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) calling for a $15/hour minimum wage. This action, led by workers organized in 15 Now, marked the public launch of a major new front in the Fight for $15.
The campaign at MSP Airport emerges less than two weeks after the first major fast food workers strike in Minnesota, and amid public discussion among Minneapolis City Council members about $15/hr in Minneapolis. Winning $15 at the airport would build momentum to win in the City of Minneapolis, similar to how the win at Seatac airport inspired the launch of 15 Now and the victory in Seattle.
Over the past decade, wages at the airport have been slashed and well-paid jobs have been outsourced to the lowest bidder. “This is a part of a nationwide struggle for $15. The fast food strikes raised expectations, then Seattle workers showed it could be won. Now it’s our turn,” explained Kip Hedges, a Delta baggage handler who helped to launch the 15 Now airport campaign.
Airport workers in St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have won a $15/hr minimum wage. Just days after workers demanded $15 at the MAC, service agents in the merged American Airlines and US Airways voted to unionize with CWAIBT, winning with 86% support.
Thousands of workers at the MSP Airport make poverty wages. Delta is the largest employer at MSP and recorded $2.3 billion in profit in 2013. Some workers are paid as little as $8/hour to clean Delta’s planes while Delta CEO Richard Anderson made $14 million in 2013, or $7,000/hour.
The Metropolitan Airport Commission, which governs all airport activity and commerce, is run by a board of 15 commissioners appointed by Governor Mark Dayton and the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul. “At the airport and in the wider Twin Cities, these politicians preside over some of the deepest racial and economic divides anywhere in the U.S.,” said Ty Moore. Moore ran for City Council last November on a campaign platform for $15/hour minimum wage. Now, Moore is helping to strengthen the organizing effort for $15/hour at the airport.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers MN state council and the AFLCIO state convention endorsed the campaign for $15/hour at the airport, along with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, Minnesota Nurses Association and IAM Local 1833.
This month’s Metropolitan Airport Commission meeting will be on Oct. 20 at 12 p.m. at Lindbergh Terminal 1.
“At the meeting on Oct. 20, we hope to present another 1,000 signatures from airport workers, and we have several thousand from the wider community. Airport workers have seen a lot of defeats. $15 is an idea whose time has come and we want to know: what does the MAC board plan to do about it? ” Hedges said.
The campaign for $15 Now encourages all supporters to join them at the Oct. 20 meeting: 12 p.m., Terminal 1 Commission Chambers, 4300 Glumack Drive.