State Representative Adrian Madaro along with State Senator Sal DiDomenico have filed legislation calling for Logan Airport contractors to pay employees $15 per hour following numerous claims of unfair labor practices by airport companies.
The bill, filed by Madaro and State Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), would create a wage-floor of $15 an hour for baggage handlers, airplane cleaners and other low-wage workers who work at Logan.
“In the face of inaction on the part of the airport contractors and the airlines that employ them, this legislation safeguards vulnerable workers, many of whom live in my district,” said Madaro in a statement. “Decent wages and fair contracts protect workers and ensure the kind of quality service that Boston’s visitors deserve.”
Madaro added that the $15 per hour minimum wage was once considered a long shot but is now a reality in cities like Seattle, SeaTac, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Fast-food workers in New York recently won $15, and it is the minimum pay at leading companies like Facebook and Aetna.
“Wheelchair attendants, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, ticket checkers, and other workers play a vital role ensuring the safety and comfort of the nearly 80,000 people who pass through Logan Airport each day,” said Madaro. “But airlines have increasingly outsourced their customer service responsibilities in recent years—resulting in plummeting wages and benefits for workers as contractors compete against each other to cut costs.”
Madaro added that the jobs provided by airport contractors cost Massachusetts taxpayers millions of dollars by burdening the state’s public assistance programs such as subsidized housing and Commonwealth Care. Hundreds of workers at Logan Airport choose to enroll in publicly subsidized health services because the insurance plans offered by their employers are either of very low quality or prohibitively expensive. Activists helping the Logan workers have found that the public subsidy to just five companies from taxpayers amounted to over $6.25 million since 2007.
In 2012, a number of employees at Logan International Airport showed up at Massport’s monthly board meeting to file several grievances against contractors doing business at the airport for unfair labor practices.
The testimony shed light on potential poor working conditions at companies that are contracted for a host of passenger services at Logan. Employees have been complaining that these companies have been cutting wages and laying off workers without explanation.
The worker’s took their complaints all the way to the state’s Attorney General’s office who sided with Logan workers against their employer.
Among the supporters of Madaro and DiDomenico’s bill is Kheila Cox who works at Logan Airport as a baggage handler. For this 38-year-old mother, it’s critical to get a living wage.
“I have a daughter who was accepted into Lesley University,” said Cox. “However it quickly became clear that even with financial aid we couldn’t afford the tuition. My daughter is now attending Bunker Hill Community college, I am still so proud but it broke my heart when I couldn’t help her attend Lesley after working so hard to get in. I had told her that she just had to work hard and that would be enough but it is so clear that today working hard isn’t enough to get ahead.”
DiDomenico added that as a public servant he is deeply concerned with the growing income and wealth gap between the very rich and the majority of working families.
“No one should be working full time and remain in poverty,” said DiDomenico.