For immediate release
February 9, 2011
Amidst massive concessions redevelopment, Chicago aldermen introduce ordinance to protect airport jobs, revenue
At today’s Chicago City Council meeting, Alderman Ricardo Munoz introduced the "Stable Jobs Stable Airports Ordinance", to provide critical protections for jobs and revenue at Chicago’s airport concessions operations. Chicago recently kicked off a massive redevelopment of $250 million of food and retail concessions at O’Hare and Midway airports. The Department of Aviation is currently reviewing proposals from dozens of companies to operate retail businesses at the airports, and will solicit proposals for food operations later this year. As many as 1,500 workers, the majority of whom are Chicago residents and members of UNITE HERE Local 1, will be affected by this transition.
The ordinance, cosponsored by 29 Chicago city aldermen, would require new concessions companies to guarantee a smooth transition to their operations by retaining the existing employees and avoiding labor disputes. Several key airport markets have implemented similar policies during these times of transition, including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Phoenix and San Diego just last year. The ordinance introduced today in Chicago would also close a loophole in the City’s living wage law that exempts airport concessions contractors from the living wage requirement.
"I’m glad to see that the city is taking steps to make sure our jobs are protected during this transition," said Jamell Bond, who works as a cook at O’Hare International Airport. "I’ve been working at the airport for two and a half years and some of my coworkers have been there for over twenty years and we’ve never seen a change this big. I want to make sure that I’ll get to keep my job during this change, regardless of which companies operate at the airport."
"We should not see another instance where we have more working families put out of their jobs," said Alderman Sandi Jackson of the 7th Ward. "Join us in this struggle to keep these folks working! I thank my colleagues for introducing this ordinance and I look forward to working with them to see this through."
UNITE HERE Local 1 represents over 1,200 concessions workers at Chicago O’Hare International and Midway Airports.
UNITE HERE is the union for travel hospitality workers, representing 25,000 airport workers across the U.S. and Canada.