Poverty Doesn’t Fly: Airport Workers Strike Across the US

by Mickey Huff
Published: Last Updated on

“Airport workers across US strike for better pay, benefits,” a report published by RT International, covers the story of service workers in nine airports across the country that went on strike for better working conditions and wages. The airports being affected include “Reagan National Airport serving Washington, DC; LaGuardia, Kennedy (JFK) and Newark Liberty airports serving New York City and the surrounding areas; the international airport in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois; Boston Logan International Airport in Massachusetts; Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington; and Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Florida.” One worker at Reagan National Airport in D.C., a porter named David Tucker, is paid $3.77, plus tips. This is no where near the minimum wage, let alone a living wage. The workers are fighting to get $15 an hour. The action is called “ Poverty Doesn’t Fly” and is organized by Airport Workers United with support from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The strike “aims to raise awareness of the plight of poorly paid service workers – janitors, baggage handlers, porters and other sub-contracted staff – at major US airports.”

These workers are fighting about more than low wages in the airport; they are fighting for their respect. Many people face low wages and cannot afford to live especially in major metropolitan areas where these airports are located. Strikes let people know that a company needs to consider changing their ways or they could lose workers and even consumer business as a result. But that means the story has to be told to a broad audience. So far, the corporate news media seem to be ignoring this issue but it has gotten coverage from RT International and by the very people that are protesting the low wages and poor worker treatment who have taken to posting on social media like Twitter and Instagram. The Washington Post interviewed some of the protestors, but otherwise, this story, like many stories about the working class, doesn’t seem to be taking off anytime soon.


“Airport Workers across US Strike for Better Pay, Benefits,” RT International, March 31, 2016, https://www.rt.com/usa/337934-airport-workers-strike/

Student Researcher: Matthew Martin (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)