In order to maximize attention to their working conditions and wages, employees at O’Hare International Airport are threatening to strike during the busier than usual Thanksgiving weekend.
The workers are not in a union, but are being organized by the Service Employees International Union Local 1. Airplane cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants and janitors voted on whether to strike over a two-day period. In an all-but unanimous decision of 499-1, the workers voted to strike, according to union spokesperson Izabela Miltko-Ivkovich. There are an additional 1500 workers at the airport who did not participate in the vote.
The workers are not threatening to close the airport. They intend to picket outside O’Hare and walk through the airport terminals with placards voicing their complaints. President of SEIU Local 1, Tom Balanoff, said that the strike, “will cause some disruption, no doubt.”
“Workers are really frustrated because they’ve been fighting and they’ve been trying to get the powers to be to hear their voice,” Balanoff said. “So they’re hoping that with this strike, the powers that be — the city, the Department of Aviation, American, United and other airlines — that they’ll listen and come to a rational way so that these workers have the right to be recognized, and they have a right to bargain over their working conditions.”