5:14 PM Eastern - Monday, August 18, 2014

Minnesota Airport Protest Leads to Hearing to Discuss Real Solutions for Disabled Passengers and Workers Alike #default

Two months ago, a group of airport workers, passengers with disabilities and their allies raised their voices together at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

Today (Monday August 18), the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which runs the airport, is discussing how to address these problems.

Over the last thirty years, airlines have sought to use their influence to slash wages by moving away from directly employing airline workers and instead using contractors to do a range of jobs including cabin cleaning and wheelchair operations.

It means that while airlines are making record profits, many of the people who provide those profits are not sharing in the prosperity they themselves have created.

The low wages that these companies pay is not only holding hard working families at the airport back. They also hold back our economy and harm the quality of services that disabled passengers receive at the airport.

Workers at the airport report that the low wages they are paid cause constant turnover of staff, leading to short-staffing and undertrained workers.

Abdi Ali, who works as a wheelchair agent for a company called AirServ at MSP airport, explained the problem:

"Sometimes we are short of people. Even though we are cart drivers, sometimes we have to do wheelchair, and then passengers then have longer to wait for a cart because they are using cart drivers to do two jobs - to drive the cart and then sometimes stop and do wheelchair at the gate. So that means that someone is waiting for a cart somewhere and needs help."

Abdi and his co-workers at the airport have been working to raise standards at the airport, advocating for good jobs that will create a stable workforce that can create a model airport that works for all--passengers, workers, and Minnesotans, whose communities benefit from good jobs.

People like Abdi and his co-workers at the airport, and the passengers with disabilities, who rely on the airport, can't wait for today's hearing.

As disability-rights advocate Jack Strahan of ADAPT, Minnesota says:

"Having trained staff and, having them supported by the airports commission, and the air carriers, would go a long way towards making the experience a better one for disabled people coming through the airport."

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