For immediate release
March 15, 2017
D.C. airport and airline catering workers rallied outside the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) today at Reagan National Airport with a message: “I Love D.C. Pay.” Hundreds of terminal concessions and airline catering employees at the D.C. airports make below the D.C. minimum wage of $11.50, and are also excluded from MWAA’s own living wage policy of $14.27.
Airline catering workers at Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport earn as little as $8.20 per hour. The airline industry made $40 billion in profit in 2016. While workers in the catering kitchens have not shared in the industry’s success, MWAA has. MWAA’s revenue from airline catering increased 119.4 percent from 2006 to 2015.
Most of the workers at the D.C. airports are immigrants, mainly from Ethiopia. Some of the food, retail, and airline catering workers at the airport work two or even three jobs, all at the airport, just to make ends meet.
“We know the airport and the airlines are making record profits,” said Aschalew Asabie, a utility worker at Reagan National Airport. “The airport is always busy, and charges more for water and coffee than any store I can afford to go to on the street inside D.C. But working at D.C.’s airport, I make less than the D.C. minimum wage.”
MWAA has still not moved forward to expand its living wage policy to include contracted airport workers, like terminal concessions and airline catering employees. MWAA’s existing living wage of $14.27 per hour only applies to certain airport contracts. Without MWAA acting to expand its wage policy to include contracted airport workers, hundreds of terminal concessions and airline catering employees continue to be stuck in poverty. The D.C. minimum wage, which increased to $11.50 per hour last July, will rise to $15 by 2020.