Baggage Workers Protest Low Wages and Tipping Policy at Fort Lauderdale Airport

Categories: Politics

Thumbnail image for silent_protest_Baggage_Airline_Guest_Services.jpg
CC Flickr/RebeccaBarray
The more than $1 billion in economic activity that the expansion at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is expected to generate will certainly make airline and airport executives and contractors a bit more wealthy. But Some of the baggage workers feel a bit left out which is why they are staging a silent protest this evening at the Delta Airlines terminal with taped mouths.

Workers from Baggage Airline Guest Services, Inc., a contractor for Delta Airlines, say that the wages they earn, which ranges from $4.77 to $7.79 an hour, are not enough to maintain a living in South Florida.

See also:
- Broward County Commissioners to Live on Minimum Wage for a Week
- Martin David Kiar, Broward County Commissioner, Reflects on Living on Minimum Wage for a Week

They say the company is retaliating against them my imposing a policy of reporting at least $25 of their daily tip-out, even if they haven't earned that much.

The workers filed a charge against BAGS, Inc. with the National Labor Relations Board, which is investigating. Their complaints include not enough hours worked to not being able to afford basic health care.

Broward County Commissioner Martin David Kiar recently volunteered to live on minimum wage for a week and he found it to be pretty difficult to meet basic needs. To put it into perspective, Klar spent most of the week riding the bus to avoid gas expenses and only had just over $100 to spend on groceries, which is what a min. wage worker is left with to feed a family of four, according to Kiar.

Most of the workers include immigrants from Haiti and elsewhere and will be joined by several other members of the community, said Muhammed Malik, a South Florida activist helping to organize the workers. Malik has done work in the past in support of worker's rights and civil rights issues in the past, including working with the Occupy movement in Miami.

"It's just another story of how the workers continue to struggle," Malik says. "They are low wage workers and they are immigrant workers.

Malik says the workers ought to be paid a living wage, which would be enough to cover food, housing, clothing, health care, incidentals, and at the very least, minimal recreation.

At its height in 1968, minimum wage was the equivalent of almost $10.50 per hour in today's economy. Last January minimum wage in Florida went up 13 cents, from $7.67 to $7.79 per hour.

Several other people will be joining the protest, including members of Organize Now, an Orlando-based grassroots community organization. They will begin at 5 p.m. at the lower level of Terminal 2 at the airport.

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7 comments
willy
willy

There was never a problem with tips untill the airlines started charging passengers for checked bags,  After paying the airline the bag fees people don't feel like they shouldn't tip anymore.  I fly all the time and you would be surprise the number of people who don't tip the skycaps.

willy
willy

The Airlines made this a problem when they started charging passengers for check bags. After paying for your checked bags you don't feel like tipping.  Tips were never an issue before the airline started charging people for check bags.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

they should learn to supplement their income like the SKY CAPs in MIAMI airport do - take bribes to load planes with DRUGs and also steal valuable from luggage

Reed
Reed

 just allow self check in of bags!  

There is no reason I need assistance today.  I have wheeled luggage, and more than half the time, only a carryon.


The reality is this position is really not needed.  use technology to solve this check in problem.


Lesson to low wage earners:  get a better skill, Education is your way out of low wage jobs.  

mandating a higher wage, costs the consumer.  consumers make decisions, based on costs.


if the consumer can save money, they will - think about baggage fees, and how much less baggage is checked, due to the increased costs.

 




josephwrasse
josephwrasse

Wow, $4.77 an hour is crazy. How can anyone live on that?


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Dan K. Alexander
Dan K. Alexander

Let's say the $4.77 an hour workers are the guys who get tipped (how else could a wage be less than minimum wage unless tips are involved?); these guys are still making around $15 an hour (at least) after tips and pay. Are these guys claiming 100% of their tips? I will say this, these tips are more difficult to track than the gratuity servers receive. Some servers are still making less than three dollars an hour! And in my humble opinion, waitstaff and those in the hospitality industry do much more laborious and intellectual work than baggage handlers. Increase the minimum wage across the board (all employees in every industry) to at least $15 an hour. After taxes, that comes out to about $24k a year. My main point is that these guys could have it worse and that waitstaff should see a minimum wage increase if any worker should. BTW, I am not a server.

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