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Workers for Alaska Air’s bag vendor vote to join SEIU 6

seiu-6SEATAC (July 25, 2014) — More than 200 Sea-Tac Airport workers at Bags, Inc., who are contracted by Alaska Air Group to provide wheelchair and other passenger services for Alaska customers, have voted to join SEIU Local 6 to improve their wages and working conditions while lifting up their community.

“My co-workers and I voted for the union because we deserve to have good jobs,” said Jennifer Keni, an employee at Bags, Inc. and new union member.  “When we come together we can make positive changes that lift us all up.”

Immediately after the votes were counted, Bags workers began signing on to a letter to their employer calling for contract negotiations to take place right away. In addition, letters have been sent to Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden from community faith leaders and King County Executive Dow Constantine, co-signed by dozens of local and state government leaders, urging Alaska to adhere to its own Vendor Code of Labor Standards, which includes the provision: “Vendor shall respect their employees’ freedom of association and their right to engage in collective bargaining.”

alaska-airlines-WRA-Seatac-suitLike thousands of other poverty-wage workers at Sea-Tac International Airport, Bags workers have been on the leading edge of the movement for $15 an hour and good jobs — and on the leading edge of pushback by the giant airport corporations. Bags, Inc. itself contributed $10,000 to the losing effort to defeat SeaTac Proposition 1, the Good Jobs Initiative. After Proposition 1 passed, Alaska Airlines — which hires Bags, Inc. to serve its customers — has tried to block its implementation, suing all the way to the State Supreme Court. But Bags workers continued to organize, winning a union in last week’s NLRB election.

“Corporations are using their power to push down wages and benefits for workers,” says SEIU Local 6 President Sergio Salinas.

Bags, Inc. workers typically work part time and earn just 68 cents above the minimum wage.  These depressed wages make it hard for families to afford the basics, and also slow down the economy because workers cannot afford to maintain basic spending levels.

“Today workers have decided to use their power to improve not just their lives but also the local economy,” said Salinas.

For more information, visit SEIU Local 6’s website.

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