The morning of May 15, 2019 Denver and California airport workers and members of Airport Workers United rallied outside of the Renaissance hotel in Denver, Colorado for the annual Southwest shareholders meeting. At the rally, a Wheelchair Attendant from San Francisco International (SFO) Jeanet asked the crowd “if i am not healthy and strong how can I take care of my family?...It’s simple everyone who works hard should have healthcare, but Southwest doesn’t seem to agree.”
Southwest Airlines is allowing low road contractors to run amok. Southwest hires contracting companies to use their workers at airports but many of those companies don’t provide adequate training to their employees and are notorious for unfair wage practices. Today about 83% of Southwest employees are unionized, can we guess who the remaining non-unionized employees are at Southwest Airlines? Medina Adem from DIA showed up and was one of two workers who planned to speak in the shareholders meeting, they were not able to speak but Medina wants the everyone to know, "With a union , we would have a voice on the job to call for the training we need to keep the DIA workers and travelers safe."
The main contractor at Los Angeles (LAX), S.A.S. Contractors has been accused of stealing almost a million dollars in wages from employees in California. National contractor Prospect Airport Services, regularly demands Denver International Airport (DIA) employees to do jobs they are untrained for. One of the more heinous examples in Denver is Prospect forcing employees trained as wheelchair assistants to transport firearms in baggage claim, but Prospect has been involved with litigation of racial discrimination and unfair labor practices throughout the country.
While these are all gross examples of negligence towards employee safety, maybe as disturbing is the fact that in 2016 of the 30 busiest airports in the country 42% of contracted workers were found to live under the poverty line.
“IF SOUTHWEST TRIES TO STOP ME THEY’LL SEE US IN THEIR LOBBY”
The shiny corporate image of Southwest Airlines and their ‘TransFAREncy’ are being called into question by workers around the country. Workers and allies came to tell the shareholders that Southwest pitting contracted workers against unionized workers hurts the safety and lives of everyone and will not be tolerated.
Gary Kelly makes more than seven and a half million a year as CEO of Southwest Airlines and has reportedly made over $12 million selling shares of the company in the past two years alone. Kelly announced Southwest, traded on the NYSE as LUV, netted an income of $2.5 billion in 2018, these workers are asking where is our LUV?
“SOUTHWEST SOUTHWEST you can’t hide, WE CAN SEE YOUR GREEDY SIDE.”
Yemana, a DIA worker said, “I came today so my voice as a worker is heard. Workers rights must be kept appropriately with no discrimination. Workers need a union so the can live with no discrimination or harassment, live with benefits. I came to show OUR POWER to Southwest Airlines.”
A DIA worker expressed their inspiration for being at the rally, “The government of the US is working against poor people, that is not democracy, we are democracy.”
Jeanet, “We want them to understand we need healthcare. We come together to fight for and with our families and if there is another chance we will support each other again.”
In March the DIA workers won $15 an hour minimum wage that affected 6,000 workers.