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Unions back raises for Commission, all Port workers

working-waThe following comes from Working Washington, on behalf of a union coalition that includes the Teamsters, UFCW Local 21 and SEIU:

SEATTLE (Feb. 28, 2013) — Unions representing workers at the Port of Seattle believe everyone who works at our port deserves a living wage. For that reason, we support increasing the pay of Port Commissioners to the $42,000/year level proposed by Commissioner Albro — but only when all workers at our airport and seaport are paid living wages as well.

Today, there are about 4,000 people who are paid poverty wages for their work at Port of Seattle facilities, including the people who handle bags and clean aircraft cabins at Sea-Tac, those who transport passengers safely to and from the airport, and the truck drivers who move goods at our seaport. These workers have difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs, yet they typically are paid less than $10/hour — barely $20,000 a year if they work full-time.

The Port of Seattle Commission has adopted its “Century Agenda,” which includes a commitment to “economic opportunity for all.” Commissioner Albro’s proposal fails to meet this important Century Agenda principle, as it would boost the pay only for the 5 commissioners, and would do nothing to ensure the thousands of poverty-wage workers at our port have the good jobs and living wages they deserve.

“When I heard the Port Commissioners talking about establishing a basic salary of $42,000 a year, I was ecstatic,” said Habiba Ali, a wheelchair attendant at Sea-Tac Airport. “I make only $9.19 an hour, the state minimum wage. But then I found out they were talking about giving themselves a raise, not me and the thousands of poverty-wage workers at the Port. This is outrageous. We’re the ones who do the work. They need to take care of us before they fatten their own paychecks.”

“I’m outraged that the Port Commissioners are talking about voting a 7-fold raise for themselves.” said Sea-Tac worker Alex Hoopes. “I’m a ramp worker at the airport. I get paid only $9.50 an hour. It’s not enough to live on. Before the Port Commissioners vote themselves a raise, they need to ensure that my co-workers and I are paid decently.”

“I would like Commissioner Tom Albro to come do my job for a week,” said port truck driver Jemal Ibrahim, “and then try to tell me that he deserves good pay but not me. It’s great that the Commissioners want to give themselves a raise, but I deserve a living wage, too.”

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!