It might be a tumultuous Thanksgiving week for O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Yesterday, labor leaders at the airport said that “hundreds” of low-wage workers voted to strike and may not show up this coming week, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Around 2,000 non-unionized workers – including baggage handlers, security officers, caterers, and cleaners -- voted on the course of action in protest of unsafe working conditions, unpaid overtime, and retaliation against union organizers. Workers are also looking for an increase in pay to a minimum of $15 per hour, according to reports.
While this could be concerning to air travelers who will be going through the airport over the holidays, the Chicago Department of Aviation says it is working with the protestors and does not foresee any future delays.
“[The department] expects every contractor to follow the law, and will aid the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and the Illinois Department of Labor to take whatever action is necessary. . . We do not anticipate any disruption in service at Chicago’s airports during the holiday season and encourage passengers to contact individual airlines for information regarding their specific flight,” said spokesperson Owen Kilmer.
While officials don’t think that the workers’ actions could lead to a shut down, refusal to show up and work could potentially lead to major delays of service for certain departments. Fliers may remember with horror how long security lines were this past summer.
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 President Tom Balanoff stated that workers won’t be trying to shut down the airport. However, he does admit that what “they’re trying to do is get the powers that be to hear their voice.”