Contract employees at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, along with the nation’s largest service workers’ union, called Tuesday afternoon for higher wages and improved health insurance benefits for those workers. This was all part of demonstrations at 11 airports around the country.
About 30 contract workers who refuel and clean planes, and load baggage at BWI gathered in the international terminal to demand a $15 minimum wage and improved health care coverage.
Valerie Long, president of the Service Employees International Union, says it’s not just about working with Menzie’s Aviation, the company that hires the contract workers.
“But it is not just about employers, it’s about what we want as standards and laws for our communities,” says Long.
Long says SEIU is trying to help the workers at BWI unionize.
Among them was Khalil Stanley, from Baltimore. He refuels planes at BWI for $11 an hour. His daughter was born in June, three months early, and remains in intensive care at St. Joseph’s Hospital as the bills mount and his insurance won’t cover them.
“I work every day on planes that cost millions of dollars,” says Stanley. “Yet I am afraid that I won’t have a roof to support her head when she comes out of the hospital.”
Stanley started a GoFund Me page to raise money to pay the bills.
Menzie’s failed to respond for request for comment, but sent a letter two months ago to their BWI employees saying “decisions, and benefits” are always “secondary to the costs to provide safe and secure service to our customers.”
Baltimore City District Eight Councilman Kristerfer Burnett also attended the demonstration at BWI, and said that he would work with city council to raise the city's minimum wage to $15. He also said he would like to push state lawmakers in Annapolis to do the same in this upcoming General Assembly session.