For immediate release
April 23, 2015
German Local Governments Own a Majority of BWI’s Concessions Manager, AIRMALL USA
Eight Members of the Baltimore City Council sent letters to the State of Hesse and the City of Frankfurt yesterday calling on German elected officials to take responsibility for the quality of jobs at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport’s (BWI) concessions program.
The BWI airport concessions manager, AIRMALL USA, has been involved in a labor dispute since 2013. AIRMALL has been criticized by workers, elected officials and religious leaders for the quality of jobs provided under its concessions program. German local governments entered the picture when AIRMALL was purchased by Fraport Group last August. Fraport, a German-based airport operating company, is majority-owned by German local governments with Hesse owning a 31% share and Frankfurt 20%.
In letters sent to each member of the Hessen Parliament and the Frankfurt City Council, the Baltimore City Council members asked that Hesse and Frankfurt take an active role in fixing the problems with job quality at the AIRMALL managed BWI-program.
“We want only the best for the citizens of Baltimore and the citizens of Hesse,” reads the Hessen letter. “Accordingly, we hope that the State of Hesse profits from its share of Fraport, but we do not think that profit should come at the expense of the people of Baltimore. Now that the situation with AIRMALL at BWI has been brought to your attention, we appeal to you from one government to another to fully apprise yourself of the working conditions of BWI concession workers and take necessary steps to cause AIRMALL to make changes.”
The letter describes low wages, lack of employer-provided health insurance for some workers and lack of job security for BWI’s food and retail workers. It also references a study published by UNITE HERE in collaboration with the NAACP about racial inequality in job classification among surveyed workers at BWI’s concessions program. Several signatories to the letters to German officials have joined over 50 community leaders and elected officials in signing a statement calling for AIRMALL’s contract at the airport to be terminated if it “cannot demonstrate sufficient progress in creating a program that has a positive impact on racial equality in the State of Maryland.”
German officials were invited to take the opportunity to learn more about the working conditions at BWI Airport when a delegation of workers from Baltimore travels to Germany for Fraport’s annual shareholders meeting in May.