After years of fighting, Philadelphia airport workers get a contract

Pat Loeb
June 11, 2018 - 6:50 pm
Onetha McKnight said having a voice and respect is just as important as the wage increase under the new contract.

Pat Loeb | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — After six years of pressure, the contractors who provide services at Philadelphia International Airport have reached a contract agreement with 1,500 employees who are members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Under the new contract, the workers' wages more than double.

Onetha McKnight said she got a message when she began working as an airport wheelchair attendant 10 years ago.

"They told us — to our faces — you will not get a raise ever," she recalled.

They were wrong. Contractors agreed to raise wages from $5.75 an hour to $12 now and $13.60 in two years. But it wasn't easy.

The contract was announced at a City Hall news conference, with council members and the mayor offering congratulations.

"This has been a long fight," said Tim Glenn, who was among those who went on strike half a dozen times, marched in numerous protests and, at one point, laid down in the airport road to get PrimeFlight and Prospect airline services to the table. 

SEIU Vice President Gabe Morgan also credited American Airlines with helping convince the companies to deal with the union. The results, he said, are a victory for all.

"These workers are leading Philadelphia forward," he said.

Neither company responded to requests for comment. 

McKnight noted another aspect that is just as important as the wage increase.

"My coworkers and I now have job security and a voice on the job," she said. "That's big."