Hundreds of airport workers protest low wages on high travel day

4:58 PM, Nov 28, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL INTERNATIONAL -- It's not a coincidence that hundreds of airport workers picked the busiest travel day to highlight their fight for higher wages.

"Americans who work 40 hours a week shouldn't have to live in poverty.  It's as simple as that," Javier Morillo, President of Local 26 of the SEIU, said.

Morillo was joined by two non-union workers as he addressed the media.  Samson Yeshitla said he makes $7.25/hour loading and unloading oversized bags in the heat and cold.  Abenezer Madde, a cabin cleaner, said he was earning $8.10/hour but had recently been told his employer wasn't offering sick time anymore.  "We are here today to ask for basic human rights; fair wages, safe working conditions, and better benefits," he told reporters.

Congressman Keith Ellison joined the workers and said Americans are paying more to fly and check bags.  "We're thinking it's going to go to some of the workers, but when we learn that it's not, it's very disturbing.  Who is it going to?" the Democrat from Minnesota said.

"So while these airlines are charging more and more for things like baggage fees, they are putting pressure on the subcontractors and their employees to make less and less to do more work," Morilla added.

About 600 workers at MSP are trying to organize a union with the help of the SEIU.

KARE 11 reached out to Delta Airlines, the airport's main tenant, for a statement, but did not get one.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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