Service workers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport rallied on Monday to demand an increase in living wages for the very workers who help keep the nation’s busiest airport safe, clean, and running.
In honor of May Day, a national celebration of labor rights, service workers are calling directly on Delta Air Lines and the City of Atlanta to address high staff turnover at the airport and stabilize the majority Black airport service workforce.
Airport service workers organized with the SEIU Workers United Southern Region, non-union workers, and other union leaders to voice their demands for at least $15/hr.
ATL is the second largest employer in the South and is a major travel hub for Delta, which effectively sets the rates of pay for airport service workers. Last year, Delta effectively raised ATL service workers’ wages to just $12/hr while raking in $50.6 billion in 2022.
Fed up with the status quo fueled by corporate greed, ATL service workers are rising to reject business as usual and ensure they are respected, protected, and paid.
SEIU Workers United Florida Georgia Director Mark Wilkerson said although they fought to increase wages to $12 last year, it simply isn’t enough.
“Enough of exploiting these workers like they’re nothing,” Wilkerson said. “It’s time for us to sit at a table and try to get something done for these folks. We’re trying to bring attention to this. Atlantans need to be upset about this. The people of Atlanta should not sit back and allow this type of thing to happen.”
Wilkerson also said they hope to gain support from the community through the rally.
“At the end of the day, we just want what’s best for these airport workers and that’s for them to get a wage increase for the next two to three years,” he said. “We aren’t telling the community to boycott anything, but the community can help by calling the city council in Atlanta, reach out to the Mayor of Atlanta, and let them know you are watching this and are concerned.”
Monday’s rally comes as airport service workers nationwide have been raising their voices, demanding unions for all and federal wage and benefit standards. ATL service workers Yvonne Bryant and Rio Bryant recently took their demands to Capitol Hill, joining Senator Ed Markey and Representative Jesús “Chuy” García to announce the reintroduction of the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act.
The legislation would help stabilize the air travel industry by ensuring airport service jobs are good jobs that put workers on a path to a livable wage with benefits like affordable healthcare and paid sick leave. From coast to coast, airport service workers are urging Congress to act and pass the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act wage and benefit standards as part of the FAA Reauthorization.
“I love helping people and the people I work with at the airport, they need more money for the jobs that they do because this airport and the company they work for put more work on them and they’re not getting their wages for the work that they are doing,” Yvonne said. “They’re also not getting treated fairly, some of the supervisors don’t respect the workers, will talk to you any kind of way, just so disrespectful a lot of times. We’re having a hard time feeding our families.”
Yvonne also said the importance of the rally it to make people aware of what’s going on.
“Hopefully this gets people to support and stand behind us,” she said.