New Wings of Support for Airport Workers

"Be Wise, Organize!" This is the message being delivered to thousands of workers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) who are not yet represented by a union. In a pioneering effort of solidarity, unions at the Airport have teamed up with the San Francisco Labor Council and the San Mateo County Labor Council. The goal of the new SFO Organizing Project is to give every worker at the airport a voice on the job by becoming a member of a union.

The SFO Organizing Project is made up of local unions from six international unions--Hotel and Restaurant Employees, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Office and Professional Employees International Union, Service Employees International Union, and the United Food & Commercial Workers--the San Francisco and San Mateo County Labor Councils, and the AFL-CIO. The Organizing Project has a Steering Committee composed of the participating union, Project Director Don Barker (from the Machinists Union), and a staff of organizers.

Working together, the SFO Organizing 'Project union have already brought benefits to Airport workers. Labor has strongly supported raising the minimum wages of workers at the Airport and worked with the San Francisco Living wage Coalition, the Airport and the Mayor to pass the Quality Standards Program at the Airport. Under this new program, designed to strengthen Airport security, workers who have security and airport safety related jobs will make $9.00/hour with benefits, and $10.25/hour without benefits.

Part of the problem has been that pre-board security screeners earned around $6.25/hour and have had to work two jobs to make ends meet or have left after a few weeks to find a better paying job. In addition to working to increase the minimum wage, Labor has been working to make sure that there will be a complaint system in place for employer violations, and that there will be no retaliation against workers for exercising their rights under the new Program.

Two weeks ago, more than 40 organizers in teams of two went out to the Airport to inform workers about their rights under the Quality Standards Program, and provide information about how to improve their rights every day on the job...through a union. On April 1, the Quality Standards Program becomes effective for about 2,100 workers. On October 1, 1,300 more workers will be covered. The unions in the SFO organizing Project will continue to work together to bring the benefits of solidarity and union membership to all workers at the Airport.

A special thank you to our representatives, President Josie Mooney, Vice President Bob Boileau, Executive Secretary Shelly Kessler and Assistant Joe Brenner from the San Mateo Labor Council, Sissy Wood and Andrea Staples, AFL-CIO, Kirsten Snow Spalding, UC Labor Center, and all participating unions for providing continuous support. And also special thanks to UFCW Local 101 for providing office space.

We are moving forward and by working together we are supremely confident that all SFO workers will proudly wear the union button. We will spread the "Union Yes" umbrella over the entire area and, by so doing, will provide new wings for all to fly into the future to a better economic world. {this was provided by the organization APALA: Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance AFL-CIO. A great majority of the workers are Filipino-Americans with a possible average age of 65.}