For Immediate Release
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Contact: Jesse Kudler
(617) 974-3684, email@example.com
Coalition Of Community Groups Joins Philadelphia Airport Workers At Forum To Call For Good Jobs
Philadelphia, PA—Today at a community forum in South West Philadelphia, Fight for Philly joined a call to turn passenger services jobs at the Philadelphia International Airport into good jobs by enhancing pay and benefits such as health care and sick pay. A remarkable coalition of grassroots community groups and labor organizations—called the Philadelphia Airport Economic Justice Coalition—was joined by airport workers at the Forum on Good Jobs at the Grace Christian Fellowship. Other participants in the forum included Fight for Philly, which seeks to empower Philadelphia families to take action in their own communities, the clergy group Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER), UNITE HERE and SEIU 32BJ.
Rev. Zach Ritvalsky of Sweet Union Baptist says Philadelphia is the poorest major city in the country. “We own the Airport,” he said. “And we could easily have one of the biggest anti-poverty initiatives the city has seen in decades. We intend to push our city leaders to embrace this vision and put it into policy.”
Many passenger service workers at the Philadelphia International Airport do not reap the benefits of working at the region’s economic powerhouse despite performing vital services that make the airport run, according to findings in a new report by the grassroots group Fight for Philly.
Earlier in the week, Fight for Philly released “Raising the Bar: Ensuring That Airport Expansion Lifts All of Philadelphia,” a report about the economic plight of workers at Philadelphia Airport and recommendations on how to alleviate some of the problems identified in the report. The report offers prescriptions for the economic health of the city and region that include raising wages and benefits for these low-income airport workers.
Philadelphia International Airport, a major economic engine for the city and region, supports over 141,000 jobs in the Philadelphia region and brings more than $14 billion in economic activity to the area, according to “Raising the Bar.” But, to cut costs, airlines at the airport long ago outsourced passenger service jobs to low-bid contractors.
As powerful interests in Washington, D.C., debate the so-called fiscal cliff that the nation’s economy is on while resisting making the rich pay their fair share of taxes, airport workers who provide these vital services to airlines—cleaning terminals and aircraft, pushing wheelchairs, handling baggage, and performing security services to keep passengers safe—make as little as $7.25 an hour with no access to affordable health benefits, including sick days.
The result is that workers earn so little they are unable to provide for their families and some even have to resort taxpayer-funded public assistance for rent, health care and food.
Frank Drum, 38, a Wheelchair Assistant for PrimeFlight for seven years, said it is hard to get by making $6.25 an hour as a tipped employee because the tips he gets helping elderly and disabled passengers get around the airport is not enough to pay his bills. “My bills keep going up, but we don’t get any raises,” he said. “They cut my hours, and it seems like they want more for less. I work hard and better pay and benefits would make my life better, but right now it feels like things are just getting worse.
But Erica Cody, a security officer for McGinn Security at Philadelphia University, said the problems identified in the report are more widespread than the airport. “This problem of companies paying poverty wages is bigger than the airport; it’s happening all over the city,” Cody said. “I work hard but I can barely make ends meet.”
Fight for Philly is building a grassroots coalition of residents, community groups, neighborhood associations, faith organizations and labor groups united in the fight for good jobs, corporate accountability and strong communities.
firstname.lastname@example.org * (215) 232-3792 * http://fightforphilly.org
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