(Originally posted on The Seattle Times.) OP/ED by Mia Gregerson
ALASKA Airlines has been praised for cutting costs and increasing profits over the past three years, all while maintaining quality customer service and flying its planes on time. What you may not know is that many of the employees responsible for the airline's record of service do not actually work for Alaska Airlines.
In fact, many of the workers who serve Alaska passengers are among the thousands of poverty-wage workers who are employed not by the airlines or by the airport itself, but by low-bid contractors.
The people who load your bags onto an Alaska flight work for a contractor. When your bags get to you within 20 minutes of your plane parking at the gate -- as Alaska guarantees -- that work is actually performed by contract workers who are paid wages starting at $9.25 an hour.
The people who fuel the aircraft do hard work that requires skill and precision. Alaska has received kudos for having these workers pump biodiesel into their planes. But they, too, are paid poverty wages by a low-bid contractor.
It's the same story with skycaps and wheelchair attendants (minimum wage, or $9.04 per hour, plus tips) and the workers who clean the cabins (pay range starts at minimum wage). Over the years, Alaska and many other airlines have chosen to contract out this work to the lowest bidder, with devastating impact on communities like mine.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting them know what you think about the poverty wage jobs at our airport