“I have a daughter who is ten years old,” said Luis Carrio, outside of the Alaska Airlines Shareholders Meeting. “It’s hard when you don’t have medical benefits and you see that your daughter needs that. And the company that I’ve worked for for nine years doesn’t even offer you that.”
Luis has worked for Menzies, the poverty-wage Alaska Airlines contractor, for nine years and isn’t paid enough to make ends meet. At the Alaska Airlines Shareholder Meeting at the Museum of Flight, he spoke to the gathered crowd outside.
“I hear people say that the rent won’t wait,” he said to the crowd. “Let’s not wait, let’s fight and come together and get a little bit more.”
He wasn’t alone. Baggage handlers, faith leaders, flight attendants, other airport workers, and community members spoke up demanding justice.
Sophia Grzeskowiak-Amezquita works at the airport and she explained why she was fighting for better wages to the press.
“For me, getting a raise, for a lot of people would allow us to actually support our families,” she said. “Maybe we would only have to work two jobs instead of three.”
Tina Cummins is a cabin cleaner who works at PDX. She came up for the shareholders meeting for the second year in a row.
“Last year I was at the Alaska shareholders in Anchorage,” she said to the crowd. “My goal was to get heat and air on the airplanes. It took us a year, and as of June of last year, I went to a meeting with the CEOs, and people up there from Alaska came back to work and we had air on every one of our planes. That’s what happens when we fight and we stand up together. We’re not stepping down or backing down because Alaska says ‘No.’ So we are fighting! As one!”
Alaska Airlines had another record-breaking year, but they've forgotten something as they broke through the stratosphere: the workers who got them to such heights in the first place. Alaska Airlines needs to do better: stop blocking the $15 that workers fought for and won, get out of the way of workers forming unions, and recommit to making every airport job a good job.
“It’s our airport, it’s nobody else's,” said Michael Church, a ramp worker at Sea-Tac Airport, after the meeting. “We are the ones helping Alaska profit. We’re the ones helping JetBlue, Virgin America, Icelandair all profit. They are all profiting off of my back and off the other workers’ backs.”
“It’s not just me, it’s all of us. Cabin cleaners, ramp agents, wheelchair agents, we all do it to help the airlines. For us to pay our rent, to feed our kids, to fix our cars and to go out and put money into our economy we need our $15.”