For immediate release
August 23, 2018
Coalition seeks to place measure raising wages at DIA on the May 2019 ballot
DENVER – Today, low wage workers at Denver International Airport began collecting signatures to place the Denver Airport Minimum Wage Initiative on the May 2019 Denver citywide ballot. The ballot measure would raise the minimum wage for workers at DIA to $15 by 2021.
“I thought working for a big company like United at the airport would be a good job. But my daughter and I have to share a house with 20 other people because I can’t afford to live in Denver on my own,” said Teresita Felix, a United Airlines catering worker at DIA. “That’s why we’re fighting for $15 for DIA.”
While Denver International Airport is more successful than ever, DIA workers have been left behind. DIA is the 5th busiest airport in the U.S. and has forecast another year of record growth for 2018. The city is investing $3.5 billion in growing and improving the airport over the next 5 years, and the cost per enplaned passenger for airlines at DIA dropped over 13 percent from 2014 to 2017.
Meanwhile, with housing costs skyrocketing, a worker making the current minimum wage of $10.20 would have to work 85 hours a week to rent a 1-bedroom apartment in Denver. Over 6,000 airport workers at DIA make less than $15 an hour, 33 percent of whom earn minimum wage, according to a 2017 report by Economic Roundtable. Even some longtime airport employees at companies like United Airlines make less than $12 an hour after over 20 years on the job. In contrast, Denver’s peer airports have taken steps to fix this problem.
“Other large airports are fixing this problem,” said Kevin Abels, Denver President of UNITE HERE Local 23. “In cities across the country, airport workers have campaigned for and won higher wages. Denver can do better, too. Denver workers deserve to share in the airport’s success.”
Already, 15 other hub airports in the U.S. have adopted airport minimum wages to enhance employment stability, quality of service, safety and security at their airports.
The workers were joined this morning on the steps of the Denver City and County Building by leaders from unions and community organizations who are supporting the effort, including UNITE HERE Local 23, Denver Area Labor Federation, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Together Colorado, Colorado Jobs with Justice, IAM Local Lodge 1886, AFA-CWA Council 9, Denver DSA, AFSCME Colorado, UFCW Local 7, 9to5 Colorado, Colorado Fiscal Institute, United for a New Economy, and American Friends Service Committee.