SEIU Local 1, Emanuel Administration in Talks around Ordinance to Boost Standards for Thousands of O’Hare, Midway Airport Workers

CONTACT: Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich (708) 655-9681
Nick Desideri (630) 779-5510

SEIU Local 1, Emanuel Administration in Talks around Ordinance to Boost Standards for Thousands of O’Hare, Midway Airport Workers

(CHICAGO)— SEIU Local 1, Alderman Patrick O’Connor (40th) and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration are having positive discussions about an ordinance that would achieve union rights for thousands of Chicago airport workers as part of a broader set of regulations for ground handling operators modeled after the system in place at Los Angeles International Airport.

“Airport workers, like wheelchair attendants, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and others, work hard to keep our airports running smoothly,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “We’re working with the Emanuel administration on a process to raise standards for these hardworking men and women, because no worker at O’Hare or Midway—or anywhere in our city—should be making poverty wages.”

Alderman Patrick O’Connor, Chairman of the Workforce Development and Audit Committee, has been helping facilitate conversations between the parties to reach an agreement on a new ordinance that would lift labor standards for thousands of O’Hare and Midway International Airport workers.

“There is no substitute for sitting together with individuals who are interested in finding solutions to issues facing Chicago’s workforce,” said Patrick O’Connor of the 40th Ward. “That is the current dynamic and I am hopeful we will be successful.”

“As a way to continue productive conversations with the administration on behalf of the thousands of airport workers across Chicago, I will not invoke Rule 41 at Wednesday’s City Council meeting,” said Alderman Ameya Pawar of the 47th  Ward.  “I will continue to firmly stand with these workers in their fight to make our airports better for workers and passengers alike.”

The new ordinance could be introduced as soon as the July Chicago City Council meeting.


Around the country, airport workers are coming together in Airport Workers United, a movement of workers and their allies, raising their voices to make our airports safe and secure for passengers, employees and our communities. Last year, airport workers served an all-time high of 932 million passengers. By sticking together and speaking out, more than 110,000 airport workers across the country have won wage increases or other improvements, including healthcare, and paid sick leave. We have won wage increases in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Newark, Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Nearly 22,000 airport workers have won a union with SEIU.

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