For immediate release
May 1, 2017
“Speak Out,” Rally and March Bring Together Immigrant and African American Workers to Challenge Low Wages at Airport Vendors
PHILADELPHIA—Dozens of area workers will kick off May Day with a rally at the International Arrivals Hall at PHL, a powerful symbol of our country’s welcoming spirit where many immigrants first arrive. The workers, who will lose a day’s pay to participate in the nation’s largest May Day mobilization in more than a decade, will be joined by City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and Reverend Gregory Holston.
The “speak out” will highlight poor wages and working conditions for workers at SkyChefs and other airport employers. The protest, held as part of a Day Without Immigrants and People of Color, will also challenge Trump’s anti-immigrant and anti-worker policies.
Subcontracted workers at PHL have struggled since 2013 to win the city’s minimum wage. While an overwhelming majority of the 20,000 badged airport employees now earn at least the city’s minimum of $12.10 an hour, some airport vendors are still paying workers significantly lower wages. These workers continue to fight for equality at Philadelphia International Airport.
The mostly immigrant workforce at Philadelphia’s SkyChefs service kitchen, who provide meals for many flights leaving PHL, still make as little as $7.90 an hour and work in difficult, at times unsafe, conditions.
WHO: Dozens of immigrant and non-immigrant service workers
City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who represents Philadelphia’s 2nd District, which includes the airport and SkyChefs kitchen
Reverend Gregory Holston, Executive Director, POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild) and Senior Pastor, New Vision United Methodist Church
WHAT: Rally for Immigrant and Worker Rights at PHL (followed by the larger march downtown, and a worker speak-out at SkyChefs)
WHEN: Monday, May 1, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: The International Arrivals Hall, Philadelphia International Airport
BACKGROUND: The vast majority of Philadelphia airport contractors now pay workers the $12.10 minimum wage, but SkyChefs does not. The company, whose PHL workforce is majority immigrant, continues to ignore broad criticism and the urging of Mayor Kenney to raise wages. Many airport employers who were not required to pay the city’s minimum wage have done so voluntarily.
May Day is International Workers’ Day, when working people around the world demonstrate to commemorate hard-fought victories for basic worker protections—like overtime pay and an end to child labor—led and won by immigrants during the 19th and 20th Centuries in the U.S. and to stand for the advancement of all working people.
This year’s May 1st actions will be the largest mobilization around International Workers’ Day in the U.S. since the national call for immigration reform reached its pinnacle in 2006. More than 30,000 UNITE HERE members in 27 cities will take part in actions in their communities and workplaces. Hundreds of thousands of workers, immigrants, and allies are expected to take to the streets for humane, commonsense immigration policies, and to challenge racist, xenophobic, and anti-worker Trump policies.
UNITE HERE represents 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries in the U.S. and Canada.