Tomorrow morning, non-union workers at O’Hare International Airport are expected to strike in protest of low wages and a lack of collective bargaining rights, deliberately scheduling their stoppage after the busy Thanksgiving rush to bolster public support and minimize public inconvenience. “It was never their intent to disrupt travel,” said a spokeswoman for the SEIU, which supports the protest. “They do want to gain public support.”
In an effort to see a $15/hr min wage, janitors, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and wheelchair attendants voted to authorize a strike. Though these jobs are not unionized by the Service Employees International Union, SEIU Local 1 in Chicago supports their Fight for $15 and has helped them to organize. Tomorrow also marks the 4th anniversary of the Fight for $15 in New York.
“After building their case for $15 and union rights, O’Hare workers are ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the city, their employers and the airlines listen to their concerns,” the workers said in a statement. As they are employed by subcontractors hired by the airlines, United and American Airlines have prepared to take any necessary steps to avoid the ripple effect of inconvenience without decrying the efforts of the labor force.
As many strike at O’Hare, other low-wage employees in 340 other cities plan to protest including McDonalds workers, graduate assistants, Uber drivers, health care workers and child care workers. O’Hare is one of twenty airports, including Los Angeles and Newark, taking part in the protest, though it’s the only one where strikers are holding an unfair labor practices strike due to suffering retaliation for organization efforts.
While the protests aren’t expected to carry on through the week, there is no formal set time limit on the strike at O’Hare. We at BCS Placement will be watching closely as the negotiations unfold.