Dozens of Chicago O’Hare TAS and UM workers held a hearing on Thursday, December 19 to share their workplace issues and concerns with state and city elected officials, including State Sen. Ram Villivalam (8th District), State Rep. Lindsey LaPointe (19th District) and Chicago Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th Ward.)
The elected officials committed to support TAS and UM workers in their fight for a union, higher wages, better workplace standards and safety, and better benefits, including affordable quality healthcare!
“We are fighting to get a union in our company TAS,” said TAS cabin cleaner Reina, a working mother and grandmother who has been with the company for nearly four years and says she faces mistreatment on the job, including having to work 17-hour shifts and being told not to speak Spanish on the job. “We want a voice on the job, not just for those of us cleaning in cabin services, but for everyone else…We’re hoping that you as elected officials can help us in this fight, because we can’t be going through the ups and downs by ourselves.”
The elected officials expressed their strong support for the workers and vowed to help them in their fight.
“Like the union [SEIU Local 1], we’re not going to stop fighting until you get the wage you deserve,” Sen. Villivalam said, adding that the elected officials will also help the workers protect their wages from wage theft. “We also want to make sure that we give you the right working conditions, because you all are on the frontlines” making the airport run smoothly for the traveling public.
“Our managers, our supervisors and all are telling us on our break, you cannot sleep. If you sleep, you get fired,” Mike said, adding that this is among the reasons why he’s fighting for his union, so he and his coworkers have a strong voice on the job. “We’re on third shift. Our nights and our days are reversed. It’s hard.”
Prospect wheelchair attendant and Local 1 member Keith joined his non-union brothers and sisters at the hearing. He asked the elected officials to help enforce the 2017 airport worker ordinance so airport contractors across O’Hare adhere to the same set of labor standards.
“It is now nearly 2020, and a majority of the contractors are not following the law put forth in the ordinance,” Keith said, adding that the ordinance helped him and his fellow O’Hare workers with contractors Prospect and Scrub form their union with SEIU Local 1. “We as members feel it is the city’s responsibility to enforce the ordinance they helped to create. We feel that the contractors think it’s a joke, and it’s not a joke to us.”
In response, Ald. Vasquez, who works directly on city issues, promised to get more information about the ordinance and look into the issue further.
Villivalam added: “Just know that you have the people in this room, and a whole lot more, that are standing behind you and standing with you.”
SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff joined the workers at the hearing. He said Local 1 will continue to fight to ensure the city enforces the airport worker ordinance “so that all 6,000 workers at the airport, who provide really essential services, have the right to a union, have a right to get wages that give them an opportunity to be able to take care of themselves, put a roof over their heads, have healthcare, and have opportunities for their children.”
“That’s all we want, and this is how the system is supposed to work,” he added.
What comes next? TAS and UM workers are planning a big action on January 23. Stay tuned for more updates from your SEIU Local 1 union organizer.