For immediate release
June 14, 2018
Houston – Over 100 United Airlines food workers from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) marched today from City Hall to United Airlines’ downtown corporate office to demand a higher minimum wage while United wants even more public money from City of Houston. Workers delivered copies of a new report about United’s public subsidies to Houston City Council before marching to United’s downtown offices.
“Our new report shows that the Houston airport is handing out money in all sorts of ways to United and missing out on revenue because the airport is favoring United over and over again,” said Willy Gonzalez, president of UNITE HERE Local 23 Texas. “United is asking for more and more money from the City of Houston, while paying Houston food workers the lowest of any of their hub cities.”
United Airlines has received over $216 million in public subsidies from the City of Houston since the merger with Continental in 2011. Houston is also the only airport where United entirely controls three terminals, including keeping concessions revenue that would otherwise go to the City. While the City of Houston has renegotiated deals to United’s benefit multiple times, and cited good jobs as justification, United pays Houston food workers lower than any other United hub city in the country.
“After 21 years of working for United Airlines, I make just over $11 an hour,” said Sofia Gonzalez. “The city should make sure that when the airport is negotiating any new deal with United, that United treats the people of Houston like me better.”
United and the City are currently negotiating a new Memorandum of Agreement. United wants the City to build it a new baggage handling system for Terminal E, another multimillion dollar subsidy for United without a public price-tag.
Houston’s ongoing public subsidies to United Airlines have a variety of consequences. Subsidies stifle competition and negatively impact other businesses at the airport. Additionally, as Houston looks to expand transit options to George Bush Intercontinental and Hobby International Airports, the airport system could invest in funding rail to Hobby and better transit connections to Bush rather than continuing to give United additional public subsidies.