News & Commentary

September 4, 2023

In today’s News and Commentary, UNITE Here and SEIU-affiliated unions push for approval of the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act, Maryland community colleges form faculty unions, and the United States and Canada celebrate Labor Day.

Unions led by SEIU and UNITE Here are lobbying for approval of a proposed amendment to the Federal Aviation Administrations. The Good Jobs for Good Airports Act sets a minimum wage for all airport workers at airports that receive federal funding. If passed this could raise wages for tens of thousands of the airline industry’s lowest paid workers. Pre-pandemic, many airport workers were employed directly by airlines and were supported by unions, but now cabin cleaners, wheelchair assistants, luggage-handlers, janitors and others are hired by private contractors bidding for work. This system has driven down wages and reduced benefits for nearly 250,000 airport workers. The Good Jobs for Good Airports Act would establish pay, benefits and labor standards for these airport service workers. The act was introduced in the summer of 2022, but gained little traction. The unions are pushing strongly to ensure that the reintroduction takes off.

Two community colleges in Maryland were certified and recognized last week. Fredrick Community College and Howard Community College faculties formed unions under a new state “card check” law that recognizes a union if more than 50% of the bargaining unit members sign authorization cards. Howard Community College gained recognition after more than 80% of its 170 faculty members submitted authorization cards. The two unions join 52 other new teachers unions organized by the American Federation of Teachers this year. The unions plan to address workload and compensation issues among other matters.

The United States celebrates the 141st Labor Day. As Will reported, the holiday began informally in 1882, but did not gain federal recognition until 1894. This year, Labor Day parades are scheduled around the country, with Philadelphia welcoming President Biden to its celebration. A Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations tracker indicated that over 500 labor actions have occurred in the United States since January 1. And the temperatures of this “hot labor summer” are expected to carry over into the fall, as the SAG-AFTRA strike continues and the United Auto Workers approach their contract expiration date. This Labor Day, the labor movement can celebrate increased momentum, historic victories, and growing public support. While Labor Day is a public holiday, meaning white collar and government workers have the day off, many working class people, including transportation workers, retailers, emergency personnel and restaurant employees, will celebrate the movement’s successes from their place of employment.

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