In response to the Metropolitan Airports Commission administrators proposing to raise wages for airport workers to $1 above the state’s minimum wage, SEIU Local 26 President Javier Morillo issued the following statement:
“SEIU Local 26 has been proud to work alongside sub-contracted airport workers, passengers and disability rights advocates over the last few years in our shared goal to end poverty wages and to make MSP an airport that works for all of us, not just wealthy airlines like Delta. We are proud that Governor Dayton has taken concrete steps to lift up the cause of workers, including appointing minimum wage airport worker Ibrahim Mohamed to be a MAC Commissioner and calling for the MAC to raise wages, saying $10 should be a “starting point’ but if MAC wants to make it higher, ‘I don’t have a problem with that’”.
“At the last MAC meeting there was a promise to bring multiple proposals to the May 18th meeting, but this week they instead announced that only one proposal will be brought forward, one that would raise wages $1 above minimum wage for a limited number of workers. There are many concerns with this proposal. First of all, because of the path they are choosing the pay increase will not cover all workers at MSP, nor do we have any confidence it will actually be enforced. Hundreds of workers will be left out of this deal, falling even further behind at a time of growing income inequality in our state and country. And recent experience tells us the policy will be unenforceable or unenforced. In December, MAC passed with much fanfare a rule about paid sick days, effective January 1, 2015. Although SEIU confirmed with the MAC that in March we could begin letting people know of their new rights (three months after it was supposedly effective), workers this week learned that MAC has not taken even the first step in implementing the rule, six months after Commissioners approved the change. (The recently released memo stated the policy “have been held temporarily for final execution” but gives no indication of when this might actually happen). This recent experience makes it a risky proposition at best to trust MAC leadership’s recommendation that this policy is the solution to enacting the Governor’s vision.
“As MAC Chairman Dan Boivin said, the MAC’s motivation for raising wages was that ‘many airport workers must draw on public assistance.’ The proposal to raise wages to $1 above minimum wage will not come close to solving this problem. Also weighing on commissioners, Boivin said, is the fact that the airlines are now posting healthy profits. It was announced last month that Delta reaped record profits and their CEO saw a 22% pay increase to over $17 million dollars in 2014.
“There are other options that were discussed during the April MAC meeting that the staff memo has ruled out without a transparent process or the input of Commissioners. The Quality Service Wage (referenced in the memo as “Prevailing Wage”)—similar to what Ramsey and Hennepin County have used for years for service employees—is the best way to reach the vision of Governor Dayton and truly make MSP the best airport in the country. Currently this option is being left out of the discussion without explanation and without transparency. This current proposal from MAC administrators to raise the minimum wage for a portion of the sub-contracted airport workers does not satisfy the goal workers and disability rights activists have been fighting for over the past few years. It will not end poverty wages at MSP to make an airport that works for all of us, nor does it live up to the vision that Governor Dayton has laid out about truly improving the lives of front line workers. We are urging commissioners to reject this current proposal, evaluate the other options, and take the time needed to do the job well so that we can all stand together in ushering in a new day at MSP in June.”