Certain service workers employed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) have announced that they might go on strike over the Thanksgiving weekend, probably the busiest travel period of the year.
The group of workers includes some baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants as well as aircraft cleaning staff which would impact operations to some degree if they don’t show up for work. However this is just a fraction of the employees who aren’t generally unionized but use the Service Employees International Union to voice their concerns.
CNN Money (access here) has the most updated article about the announcement.
Janitors, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and wheelchair attendants, who are not unionized but are working with the Service Employees International Union, are seeking a wage of $15 an hour. Some are paid minimum wage, which is $8.25 in Illinois.“It is not their intent to disrupt operations, but to make their voices heard and have their concerns of wage theft, safety and working conditions to be taken seriously,” SEIU Local 1 spokeswoman Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich told CNNMoney.
The city’s Aviation Department said it was committed to an “ongoing dialogue,” and it said it did not expect any disruption in service. The strike would not affect more critical airport operations, like security screeners or air traffic controllers, who are also unionized federal employees.
The spokeswoman for the SEIU said the workers will decide exactly when the strike will begin. Workers voted Thursday to strike.
Well, of course it is the intention of the workers to disrupt operations to some degree otherwise a strike would have no impact whatsoever.
While I usually have a strong disdain for strikes especially when they originate from well looked after professions such as pilots in Europe I feel that employing someone for USD 8.25 per hour in a city like Chicago (or anywhere for that matter) isn’t fair compensation. Especially if it’s labor intensive work which can certainly be said about these professions represented here.
It’s uncertain in what way this strike will effect the airports operations and if the Airport Authority will be able to make due without these workers on strike for the time being.
Considering the three groups on strike my recommendations to passengers is to avoid being reliant on their services if possible. That means if you don’t need a wheelchair under all circumstances try to bring extra time and walk instead. Everyone who is able to travel with carry on only might also consider to avoid checking in baggage, who knows if it’s getting stuck somewhere in the airport and how long it might be delayed.
Passengers will not have any influence beyond preparation for their trip so the best you can do is bring time and monitor your flights on the airlines website in case there are significant delays or cancellations.