WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Airport workers say they’re the under-appreciated essential workers. They kept airports open, baggage moving, and planes flying.
“I had no idea how hard it would be,” Dallas-Fort Worth Cabin Cleaner Verna Montalvo said.
With millions of Americans relying on them, airport workers say they are overworked and under-paid.
“I work three jobs, I never see my kid. I go at three in the morning and I come back home at 9:30 (p.m.) They are already asleep,” Boston Logan Airport Skycap Ababuti Oloki said.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) believes airport workers deserve better.
“Just as airplanes don’t fly without pilots, our aviation system would collapse without airport service workers,” Markey said.
That’s why he introduced a bill that requires federally funded airports to set a higher wage and benefits standard for airport workers, as well as allow workers to establish a union. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) warns, airports and travelers will suffer, unless airport workers get what they deserve.
“Paying airport workers a living wage benefits consumer cause the service is better, the security is better, the safety is better,” Schumer said.
But some Republicans question the idea of Congress forcing airports to follow a national standard.
“I can’t imagine that a national policy is what we would put in place here,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said.
Capito says airports need flexibility.
“Let individual airports around the country make their own decisions,” Capito said.
But Markey says if Republicans agreed on providing support to airports with COVID relief packages, they should support the workers running airports.