DIA service workers go on one-day strike
Baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, others were among those striking
Baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and employees who provide wheelchair services to travelers at Denver International Airport went on strike Wednesday, but the job action had little impact on operations at the airport.
More than 100 employees mounted a one-day strike against three private contractors: PrimeFlight, which provides cabin cleaning services to United Airlines; G2, which provides wheelchair services for passengers; and AirServe, which provides wheelchair and baggage services.
“We have not seen any delayed flights and no operational impacts” resulting from the strike, which began at 4 a.m., DIA spokesman Heath Montgomery said.
The workers, represented by Service Employees International Union Local 105, don’t earn enough — even working fulltime — to provide for their families, said Alvina Vasquez, vice president of 360 Strategies, which provides public-relations services for nonprofits.
SEIU wants to bring the workers into its union, said Carlos Contreras, organizing director for Local 105.
“We want these workers to have better conditions,” Contreras said. “We believe if they have a union under contract,” employers will have to improve pay and conditions.
Margaret Threadcraft, who makes about $23,000 a year as a cabin cleaner for PrimeFlight, said the company needs to improve pay and benefits. Despite her low salary, she said, the best insurance plan provided by PrimeFlight includes a $5,000 deductible.
There is no sick or vacation pay, and although the company provides uniforms, it doesn’t give employees protective gear they should have to clean toilets and perform other tasks, she said.
A representative of PrimeFlight did not respond to a call from The Denver Post on Wednesday.
The workers delivered a letter outlining their concerns to an airport representative for delivery to DIA CEO Kim Day, Montgomery said.
But Day has nothing to do with the operation of companies that employ the workers, Montgomery said. “The private companies involved have contracts with the airlines directly and the airport is not involved in those business arrangements,” Montgomery said. “However, this is a contract issue between a contractor and their employees.”
The workers want Day to bring pressure on the companies, Contreras said.
The employees marched through DIA chanting and calling on the companies to “respect our rights.”
Employees also say health and safety issues they have identified have gone unresolved.
Montgomery said the only warning he had there would be a job action was a request from the union to pass out leaflets.
Union workers at the Newark, LaGuardia, JFK and Philadelphia airports suspended strikes while contract talks continue, the Associated Press reported.
SEIU vice president Rob Hill early Wednesday said “last-minute” talks between the union and American Airlines have resumed, so the union has “suspended” the strike while talks continue
Airport workers go on strike at Denver International Airport on Wednesday. Baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and employees who provide wheelchair services to travelers at DIA were among those on strike.