The Port of Seattle and Alaska Airlines have entered a partnership to upgrade the north terminal to the tune of $230 million dollars. The port is paying the lion’s share, investing $194 million into the upgrade that will modernize facilities, improve seismic safety and even throw in an executive lounge for VIP customers.
It’s good that the Port wants to upgrade their facilities and improve the experience of the riders who will benefit. After all it’s been 40 years according to the joint press release since the terminal has seen any upgrades. But when was the last time poverty-wage workers in that terminal have had an update to their wages or working conditions?
In fact, some of the workers have been downgraded. The Port has allowed companies like Alaska Airlines to start shipping jobs off to the lowest bidder contractors, like ASIG and Menzies. Some jobs which used to be decent jobs have been demoted as these low bid contractors cut corners in pay, safety and even workers’ respect.
It’s time to change that.
The jobs that keep our airport moving, skycaps, fuelers, ramp workers, cabin cleaners, and baggage handlers, deserve an upgrade too. They are asking just for what every worker deserves: living wages, affordable healthcare and respect in the workplace.
The Port of Seattle, by entering this partnership with Alaska, is showing it can take a hands-on approach. If it can enter an agreement about spending hundreds of millions of dollars, surely it can have a chat with Alaska and the other airlines about the thousands of poverty wage jobs at our airport.
The Port was started to ensure that our airport and other ports were an economic engine that lifted the region up. They’ve shown a great willingness to improve and upgrade the facilities around our airport. Now it’s time they show that same willingness and excitement to make sure every job at our airport is a good job.