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Bring Dignity Back to MSP

Cabin cleaners, wheelchair  agents, and cart drivers earn poverty wages, receive no bene ts, and work in unsafe  conditions.

SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION (SEIU) LOCAL 26  706 N. First St., Suite 110, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Bring Dignity Back to MSP

Passenger service workers employed by subcontractors at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) face the indignity of working in poverty jobs under hazardous or unsanitary conditions. They lack paid sick days, training, and supplies to serve passengers along their travels. That puts everyones health and safety at risk. Workers have attempted to resolve these issues with their employers, but the contractors have shown no interest in addressing these serious problems. These issues are so serious that workers have held strikes and engaged in other disruptive activities. These same contractors have been the subject of lawsuits, investigations and safety complaints and have shown a lack of accountability.

The MACs Vision

The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) has a vision to provide the best airport experience in North America,1 and by many measures it is succeeding: Travel and Leisure Magazine recently selected MSP as the Best Airport in America2 The Department of Transportation lists MSP as having the third best on-time departure rate.3 Travel Leaders Group ranked MSP fourth best in the nation for business travelers and second best in several other categories including amenities, dining, and traveling with kids.4 In working to fulfill its vision, the MAC has made the Airport even more vital to the economic wellbeing of the Twin Cities metro area. The recent report from InterVISTAS Consulting calculated that the airport injects $10 billion a year into the area economy through jobs, tourism, and tax revenue.5 In addition to driving regional economic development, other central tenets of the MACs mission include ensuring that the Airport: meets the needs of the community provides a safe and secure location is easily accessible for all6 This report is presented with the goal of helping the MAC provide travelers with a first-class airport experience and of ensuring that residents, businesses, and workers in the Twin Cities are able to enjoy a strong and sustainable airport system.

Low Road Contractors Jeopardize MSPs High Standards

In recent years, airlines have outsourced much of their passenger service responsibilities, including cabin cleaning, cart driving, and wheelchair services. Companies compete to be the lowest bidder, fostering a race to the bottom which threatens the quality of services, safety, and security; impedes equitable economic development; and increases pressure to undercut the high standards MSP seeks to maintain. Poverty wages: wages Many passenger service workers earn minimum wage even after many years on the job. At 40 hours a week, this comes out to just $15,080 a year well below the federal poverty line for a family of four of $23,050,7 Public Subsidies: Subsidies The MAC prides itself on being able to raise enough revenue that it does not require general tax support and that it generates millions of dollars in tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments.8 However, in the case of these passenger service workers, tax payers are subsidizing the contractors through things such as public assistance, medical care, food stamps, and low-income housing. Lack of affordable health insurance: insurance Workers cannot afford the healthcare coverage offered by the contractors. As a result, they and their families are either not insured and are not able to get the care they need which can result in increased absenteeism, or they are covered through publicly-subsidized health services at the taxpayers expense. Workforce Instability. Low pay and no benefits (no paid sick days, holidays, or vacation) result in high turnover, which means additional training costs and a less experienced workforce. Inadequate staffing levels. The contractors have an insufficient number of staff to do the job right. As a result, employees are overworked and at a greater risk for injury. Disabled passengers are not given the assistance they are entitled to by law. Flights are delayed, and customer satisfaction declines. Dangerous working conditions. Cabin cleaners report that they often have inadequate or no hand protection when cleaning up blood, urine, feces, and vomit, or while handling the cleaning chemicals. Workers state they have not been trained about the hazards of using those chemicals, or about how to prevent or reduce exposure when cleaning blood borne pathogens from floors, seats, and bathrooms.

Passenger health and safety. On the occasions when they are given gloves, cabin cleaners charge that they are instructed to keep the same gloves on for the duration of their cleaning. As a result they may touch passenger pillows and blankets with the same gloves they have just used to clean the bathrooms. Cabin cleaners are also told to search the cabin for suspicious objects, weapons, or other dangerous devices during their cleaning. However, the workers report not being properly trained for this task.

Workers have attempted to resolve these issues with their employers, but the contractors have shown no interest in addressing these serious problems that impact not only the workers, but also passengers. These issues are so serious that workers have held strikes and engaged in other disruptive activities because they were frustrated with the unwillingness of their employers to take appropriate measures.

The MACs Vision is Not Served by Creating Poverty in our Communities

One part of the MACs mission is to ensure that the Airport meets the needs of the community.9 However, the low income levels and high rates of poverty in the communities where airport service workers live reflect the substandard wages of passenger service workers. One out of every three passenger service workers surveyed at MSP reported living either along West 7th Street in St. Paul or in the Cedar Riverside area of Minneapolis. These communities have poverty rates far higher than the metro average of 11%.10 Half of the people in Cedar Riverside are living below the poverty line, 11 as are almost a quarter of the people in the West 7th area.12 Median family income for these communities also lags well behind the metro average. The median family income is less than $20,000 a year in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood13 and $32,600 in the West Seventh area.14

The impact of a community's dependence on low-wage work extends far beyond the families who are impoverished. Poverty is linked to everything from the foreclosure crisis, homelessness, illness, and food insecurity to drug abuse and violent crime, all of which have significant social and economic implications for our communities. The study by InterVISTAS Consulting found that the MSP Airport supports over 75,000 jobs and that 20,000 of these are directly tied to the airport operations. According to the consulting group,

the average pay among the jobs it reviewed was $66,000 a year, which is a testament to MSPs economic development role. The Airport doesnt just create jobs, it creates good jobs. This is all the more reason why the MAC should pay heed to the issues facing the lowest paid workers at MSP. It may be instructive to look at the gains made by a different group of workers at the airport. There are over 200 workers at MSP who are members of our union, SEIU Local 26. They work for the cleaning company ABM which has a contract with the MAC to clean Terminals 1 and 2, as well as directly with some of the airlines to clean their offices, and with Southwest Airlines to clean the inside of their aircraft. Their current contract with ABM includes:15 $14/hour Affordable health insurance Paid vacation, holidays, and sick days Grievance procedure Process to review issues of excessive workload

By working together as a union, janitors at MSP have won major improvements in wages, benefits, and working conditions, and are able to work with dignity.

Minnesota Taxpayers Subsidize Poverty Wages at Airport

Nationally, working families make up nearly three-quarters of enrollments in major public benefits programs.16 For many workers, their jobs pay so little that their paychecks dont cover even their basic necessities. The average wage for surveyed passenger service workers at MSP is $7.73 an hour, with many jobs paying at or near minimum wage, leaving workers well below the federal poverty line.17 The Minneapolis and St. Paul City Councils have set $14.41/hour as their current living wage levels18 -- the amount a worker must earn to afford adequate shelter, food, and other necessities -- almost double what passenger service workers are paid.

The vast majority of the surveyed airport workers (80 percent) do not receive health care through their employer. The combination of low wages and no health coverage means that many of the families of airport workers must rely on taxpayer-funded safety net programs in order to make ends meet. Based on the utilization rates by working families of Medicaid, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, we estimate that $1.7 million a year is spent on these four programs for MSP passenger service workers and their families.19

Low Wages from Big Corporations

The contractors discussed in this report are large, private companies, not mom-and-pop small businesses. G2 Secure Staff, which is based in Irving, TX, has annual revenue of over $100 million20 and employs more than 4,500 people at 47 airports.21 At the MSP airport, G2 employs wheelchair agents and electric cart drivers who provide service to Delta passengers. Air Serv, Serv which is headquartered in Atlanta, will take over the wheelchair and cart responsibility from G2 after October 28. Air Serv has over 12,000 employees at over 50 airports in the United States and United Kingdom22 and has annual revenues of approximately $300 million.23 Prime Flight Aviation Services provides the wheelchair and cart services for all airlines other Delta and has more than 5,000 employees in over 44 airports in the U.S.24 Prime Flight is part of SMS Holdings which has annual revenues of over $300 million.25 DAL Global Services (DGS) (DGS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta that has over 13,000 employees throughout the United States.26 DGS employees at MSP clean inside Delta planes. DGS has annual revenue of over $200 million.27

Lack of Contractor Accountability Endangers Workers and the MAC

The contractors that are providing passenger services at MSP have been the subject of lawsuits, investigations and safety complaints in recent years and have shown a major lack of accountability. Prime Flight Aviation Services provides wheelchair and cart service for all airlines at MSP other than Delta. Prime Flight provided these same services at Bush International Airport in Houston until 2012 when it closed the majority of its operations there. This followed Prime Flights suspension from a state hiring incentive program after workers reported being paid less than minimum wage and being required to report tips they didnt receive.28 G2 Secure Systems provides wheelchair and cart services for Delta. G2 pays wheelchair attendants minimum wage with no benefits, and workers report that continued understaffing results in substandard services for disabled passengers. This seems to contradict the pledge Delta made as part of a consent order to commit substantial sums of money and other resources to the advancement and protection of the interest of its customers with disabilities. In 2011, after reviewing 5,000 complaints, the Department of Transportation fined Delta $2 million for violating the Aircraft Carrier Access Act, which requires air lines to provide disabled passengers with equal access to air travel,29 the largest penalty the DOT has ever imposed against an airline for non-safety violations.30 Air Serv will take over the wheelchair and cart responsibility for Delta after October 28. In August 2013, Air Serv settled a lawsuit which charged that the company regularly required employees at LaGuardia Airport to work more than 40 hours a week, but did not pay them the overtime wages they were owed.31 In 2012 OSHA fined Air Serv after a passenger shuttle driver was killed at Newark airport. The vehicle had suddenly shut down on the tarmac, and when the driver tried to restart it, it ran over him. OSHA cited Air Serv for violating the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards because the bus was able to be started from the rear compartment while the vehicle was in reverse.32 Service workers employed in low paying jobs by airline contractors are especially vulnerable to unsafe conditions while working behind the security perimeter and hidden from public view.

DAL Global Services (DGS) is a subsidiary of Delta Airlines and provides cabin cleaning services for Delta. On June 7, 2013 the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries issued nine citations to DGS for serious violations of health and safety rules.33 A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result. The violations included: 1) Failure to properly train cabin cleaners on how to prevent or reduce exposure when cleaning blood borne pathogens from floors, seats, and bathrooms 2) Failure to properly train cabin cleaners in case of an exposure incident 3) Failure to have policies, procedures, and training for cabin cleaners who may get contaminated with bodily fluids such as vomit, urine and feces. 4) Failure to provide adequate hand protection for cabin cleaners who may clean up blood, urine, feces and vomit, and failure to provide adequate hand protection for use with cleaning chemicals. 5) Failure to ensure that cabin cleaners who spray chemical cleaners on ceilings and overhead surfaces were protected from exposure to their eyes. 6) Failure to train employees about the hazards of the cleaning chemicals they use. 7) Failure to ensure that workers had access to bathroom facilities, since workers were not allowed to use the aircraft cabin bathrooms. Menzies Aviation provides cabin cleaning services to Sun Country and Spirit Airlines. In June 2013, the California Department of Industrial Relations issued citations for unsafe working conditions in Menzies operations at Los Angeles Airport. There were 23 violations of health and safety laws, including a failure to train workers on how to properly handle hazardous substances as well as improper storage of hazardous substances on airport premises.34 Menzies workers had been speaking out publicly about unsafe working conditions and the need for increased contractor oversight for the last several years. More than one hundred Menzies workers went on strike in May 2012 to protest the serious health and safety risks they faced on the job.35 Last year, two Menzies workers employed at Portland International Airport were awarded more than $300,000 after a jury found they were fired for reporting to Oregon regulators that their worksite lacked access to a toilet.36


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The Metropolitan Airports Commission 2012-2016 Strategic Plan, p. 8 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport ranks No. 1 in magazine survey, Pioneer Press, Brady Gervais, April 20, 2012 3 MSP Airport Ranks 3rd For On-Time Departures, Twin Cities Business, Rebecca Omastiak, May 6, 2013 4 Survey Reveals Preferred Domestic Airports for Connections, Amenities, Dining, Kids and More, Travel Leaders Group,\ January 29, 2013 5 Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Economic Impact Study, InterVISTAS Consulting LLC, March 2013, p. 4 6 The Metropolitan Airports Commission 2012-2016 Strategic Plan, p. 9 7 2012 Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia 8 Metropolitan Airports Commission website, About MSP and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Economic Impact Study, InterVISTAS Consulting LLC, March 2013, p. 10 9 Strategic Plan, p. 9 10 Twin Cities Metro Looks Favorable in Latest Census Data Release, Metropolitan Council, September 20, 2012 11 The poverty rate for census tracts 1048 and 1062 is 48%, from 2010 Census Data. 12 The poverty rate for census tract 37602 is 22%, from 2010 Census Data. 13 The median household income in census tracts 1048 and 1062 is $19,724, from 2010 Census Data. 14 The median household income in census tract 37602 is $31,508. 15 Agreement between SEIU Local 26 and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Contract Cleaners Association, March 3, 2013 December 31, 2015 16 Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast Food Industry, University of Illinois at Urbana Champagn Department of Urban and Regional Planning and University of California Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, Sylvia Allegretto, Marc Doussard, Dave Graaham-Squire, Ken Jacobs, Dan Thompson and Jeremy Thompson, October 2013. 17 In 2012, SEIU Local 26 surveyed 285 cabin cleaners, wheelchair agents, and electric cart drivers employed by Delta Global Services, G2 Secure Staff, and Prime Flight at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport 18 City of Minneapolis Living Wage Ordinance/ Business Subsidy Act Programs Employment Requirements and Training Opportunities, and St. Paul Administrative Code, Chapter 98 19 Allegretto, et al, October 2013 We estimate that 37% One-third of the families with a worker in the service industry receive some form of public assistance, with an average cost per family of $7,650, Fast Food, Poverty Wages, October 2013 20 G2 Secure Staff, L.L.C. Revenue and Financial Data, Hoovers 21 G2 Secure Staff website home page, 22 ABM to buy Air Serv for about $158M, Bloomberg Businessweek News, October 9, 2012 23 Bloomberg, October 9, 2012 24 SMS Holdings web site, Prime Flight Aviation Services,: 25 PrimeFlight Aviation Services, Inc Company Profile, Zoominfo,!search/profile/company?companyId=41190345&targetid=profile 26 DGS website, About Us 27 DAL Global Services, L.L.C. Revenue and Financial Data, Hoovers 28 Prime Flight loses United contract at IAH, Houston Chronicle, L.M. Sixel, April 2, 2012 29 Delta Air Lines, Inc. Consent Order, DOT OST-2011-0003, February 17, 2011, Order 2011-2-10 30 Delta Fined for Violating Rules Protecting Air Travelers with Disabilities, U.S. Department of Transportation press release, February 17, 2011 31 Corey Dildy, Francisco Fernandez, and Howard Stevens v. Air Serv Corp., field 3/13/13, Case 1:13-cv-01300-FB-RLM 32 OSHA Inspection 315641977, Reporting ID 213400, Issuance Date June 14, 2012 33 Washington Department of Labor and Industries, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, Inspection: 316575307, June 7, 2013 34 LAX Contractor Fined, Los Angeles Business Journal, Kay Chinn, June 20, 2013 35 Chinn, LAX Contractor 36 Is Access to a Toilet a Basic Human Right?: Jury Awards Two Workers $332k for Not Having One, The Blaze, Liz Klimas, May 22, 2012


Bring Dignity Back to MSP

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