Airport workers demand probe of ‘substandard’ conditions

Airport workers demand probe of ‘substandard’ conditions

By Ira Kantor | Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | http://www.bostonherald.com

Contracted Logan Airport workers, community allies and union reps plan to converge on Thursday’s Massachusetts Port Authority’s monthly board meeting to ensure chairman Richard Davey follows through with his February promise to investigate “substandard working conditions” at the airport.

“We’re urging Massport to follow the example of some other airports and public jurisdictions and raise standards for contractors that operate on the airport premises,” said Dan Nicolai, organizing director for SEIU Local 615, which is helping the workers. “We understand that the authority has to carefully, seriously consider this.”

The union claims most contracted workers who provide such services as gate security, airplane cleaning, baggage handling and wheelchair services at Logan make $8 to $9 an hour, while others make below minimum wage.

While Massport spokesman Matt Brelis said the authority was “sympathetic” to affected workers and “researching the issue, which is what Secretary Davey … was asked to do,” he added that workers were not Massport employees nor working with companies contracted with the organization.

All companies Massport has contracts with “are required to pay a prevailing wage,” Brelis said.

Yet Nicolai said Massport needed to take a universal stance on the issue in the wake of San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles passing laws requiring airport contractors to pay living wages and offer benefits.

“They need to set the example,” Nicolai said, adding nearly 18,000 people work at Logan.

City Councilor-at-Large Felix Arroyo said Massport’s investigation was “going slow.” Boston, Lynn and Revere City Councils all have passed resolutions asking Massport to look into Logan airline contracting practices.

“In the end, Massport is the airport. We’re talking about workers that work at the airport and whether they like it or not, I believe they have some responsibility to all workers on the property,” Arroyo said. “I appreciate they are investigating it, but I’m also sympathetic to the workers.”

Davey could not be reached for comment.

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view.bg?articleid=1061133833

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