Washington (March 9, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04) today joined union leaders and airport service workers to announce the reintroduction of the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act, legislation to provide airport service workers — a predominantly Black, Brown, and immigrant workforce — with the wage and benefits that they deserve after serving on the frontlines of the nation’s aviation system during the COVID-19 pandemic, climate disasters, and busy travel seasons. By increasing the pay of airport service workers, this legislation would also improve airports services and security, a victory for workers and passengers. On Tuesday, the Center for American Progress published a report on the low wages paid to airport service workers and urging Congress to take action to improve the labor standards for this workforce.

“From the tarmac to the gate, airport service workers are the glue that connects every part of the airport, the essential ingredient that keeps our bags moving and stomachs full,” said Senator Markey. “It’s impossible to overstate the contributions of these workers. When many passengers stayed home at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, airport service workers showed up to work. When passengers returned by the millions last year, these workers were still there doing their jobs day in and day out. And when airlines cancelled thousands of flights over the holidays, airport service workers were on-hand, doing their best to serve the passengers who had been stranded at the gate. I’m reintroducing the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act because it’s time that we show up for these workers the way they do for us, and deliver the pay and benefits they have earned. I thank my colleagues for their support on this bill, and I look forward to advancing it as part of FAA Reauthorization this year.”

“This bill is a part of our fight to ensure service workers are paid a living wage and receive high quality benefits,” said Representative Jesús “Chuy” García. “Last month, I met with my constituent Diana Ordaz Quezada, a service worker at Chicago’s Midway Airport. Diana and her colleagues want what all workers deserve, good paying jobs. Today, we continue the fight for and with the hard-working people that ensure our nation’s airports keep connecting communities and families.”

“Our measure will ensure airport workers across the country get the living wages and benefits they deserve,” said Senator Blumenthal. “These essential workers—including security personnel, service vendors, and baggage handlers—are a true backbone of our transportation network. Providing airport workers with fair compensation and protections is long overdue.”

Cosponsors in the Senate include Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Senator Markey and Representative García first introduced the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act last year to repay the sacrifices that airports services workers made during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic — and continue to make, each and every day — to keep our aviation system functioning. Specifically, the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act:

  1. Prevents small, medium, and large hub airports from accessing federal funds, unless airport service workers are paid the prevailing wage and benefits, as established by the Department of Labor;
  2. Requires airports to ensure that service workers employed by vendors (such as restaurants and retail stores) are paid the prevailing wage and benefits;
  3. Applies to $11 billion in airport funding each year, including $3.2 billion in Airport Improvement Program grants, $3.5 billion airports receive from passenger facility charges, and $4 billion in funds under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law;
  4. Includes a good-faith provision so that airports are not penalized if the Department of Transportation determines that the airport made a good-faith effort to comply with the prevailing wage and benefit standards.
  5. The Good Jobs for Good Airports Act is endorsed by SEIU, CWA, UNITE HERE, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, and the Transportation Trades Department.   

“I’m proud to join Senator Markey and Representative García in our shared vision where every airport service worker, regardless of their race or zip code, has the wages and benefits they need to build a brighter future for their family,” said President Mary Kay Henry at SEIU International“For too long, major airlines have consolidated their power, cashed in record profits and raked in billions in federal funds while exploiting the very workers who help make air travel possible. Now we need Congress to hold major airlines to account and empower the majority Black, brown and immigrant service workforce by passing the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act."

“Across the U.S., workers in historically vulnerable industries are organizing for better workplace conditions. Airport workers across America have joined the call to exercise their own power and demand higher standards. It's their labor that generates the industry's billions — and our tax dollars that fund future growth. Airports and airlines received historic financial support during the pandemic and stand to gain more from investments in infrastructure,” said President D. Taylor at UNITE HERE. “Meanwhile, folks who work at these airports are scraping by to make ends meet with multiple jobs and no healthcare. It's time we mandate that these public funds go only to those that support a healthy workforce that can afford to make ends meet — that means a fair national standard for wages and benefits at airports across the nation. As we continue to recover from a pandemic that still looms, workers everywhere are mobilized for action. With the most pro-union administration in a generation — and union favorability is at its highest since 1965 — now is the time to enact the change needed to combat the most extreme income inequality in human history."