Sea-Tac Airport workers demand full time hours as air travel surges

Sea-Tac Airport workers launched a campaign to bargain for full time hours and better benefits Friday afternoon, following mass layoffs and reductions in hours due to COVID-19 travel disruptions.

SEIU6 Property Services NW is organizing the campaign to bargain for full time hours and better benefits. They are part of the Service Employees International Union, which represents over two million service workers in North America. In their Friday morning press release, they announced passenger service workers, wheelchair agents, cabin cleaners, baggage handlers and others would unite at Sea-Tac Airport's Door 00 to kick off the ‘fight for full time’.

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"The employers expect full availability from workers and even require mandatory holdovers," said Saba Belachew, SEIU6 Executive Board Member and Sea-Tac Airport worker. "But how can workers take care of our families with unpredictable schedules and short paychecks? Even Sea-Tac is getting too expensive, and airport workers are moving further out." 

Sea-Tac passenger service workers say they have continued to provide vital services on the front lines of a global pandemic, all while having inadequate sick days and health insurance. According to a recent SEIU6 survey, 33% of passenger service workers are on Medicaid and another 27% are uninsured. 

"It gives the appearance of a two-tiered system, with predominately immigrants and people of color doing essential work for these contractors who don’t provide secure schedules or adequate benefits while the airlines just look away," said SEIU6 President Zenia Javalera. "Luckily, this is the group of workers who won the nation’s first $15 an hour minimum wage, so they know how to band together and demand more."