This is why airport poverty doesn’t fly

There was a time when airport jobs were good jobs that paid a livable wage. But years of an outsourcing race to the bottom have hit airport workers hard.Airport Poverty - see the infographic

Our airports have become cities of secret poverty, where travelers never know the poverty work that helps get them to their destination.

Today, the UC Berkeley Labor Center released a report entitled ‪Course Correction‬: Reversing Wage Erosion‬ to Restore Good Jobs‬ at American Airports‬, which shines a light on that hidden poverty.‬

The report paints an alarming picture – pay for airport workers has plummeted as airlines and airports have increasingly outsourced their operations. Average salaries for low-wage workers at our airports have fallen by 15% in the last ten years.

In just ten years, the average baggage handler has seen a 45% real terms pay cut as jobs have been outsourced.

The industry should raise up the hard work those workers do, not push them further and further into poverty. The poverty they face is bad for the workers, bad for local economies and the constant staff turnover it creates is bad for safety at our airports.

But right now, airport workers across the country are standing up. People like Alex Hoopes, who made $21 an hour as a union baggage handler back in 2005. Alex’s job was outsourced and today he earns $9.50 an hour in the very same airport.

Alex and his co-workers have been a part of the Yes! for SeaTac campaign in favor of Proposition 1 for good jobs and a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Voting finishes tomorrow on Prop. 1. I am hoping for a victory, but win or lose, this epidemic of airport poverty is a problem that needs a solution.

As airport workers across the nation come together, we are building that solution.