Thousands of service workers at Philadelphia International Airport to receive pay raise and health insurance supplement

Thousands of Philadelphia International Airport workers are expected to make more money per hour.

A bill enacted Friday by Mayor Jim Kenney increases the minimum wage to $ 15.60 for PHL workers who are employed by airlines operating under leases with the city or those who are employed by a contractor for a airline company. The salary increase will be implemented gradually depending on the expiry date of the employers’ leases with the city.

Unanimously approved by the City Council in June, the new law also guarantees workers an additional hourly wage supplement of $ 4.54 for health insurance and up to 56 hours of paid sick leave. People covered by the measure occupy positions ranging from baggage and freight handlers to food and retail workers, cabin cleaners and wheelchair attendants, among others.

Board member Kenyatta Johnson, the bill’s main sponsor, said most PHL service workers currently earn $ 13.60 or $ 12.40 an hour. Most, he said, don’t have health insurance either.

“The new PHL wage law in force will not only ensure that workers earn a living wage, but will provide them with meaningful access to health benefits,” Johnson said. noted. The airport is one of the largest and most profitable airports in the country and workers – many of whom earn less than $ 30,000 a year in wages – shouldn’t have to worry about being bankrupted at any time. by illness or injury. “

With owners of small businesses that operate at the airport and the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association expressing concerns about the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemicJohnson amended the bill ahead of its passage to postpone the minimum wage requirement for restaurant and concession workers until early 2022. These employees will also have to wait until July 2023 to receive their supplements. Health Insurance.

A spokesperson for PHL told the Applicant that the airport plans to study “the potential commercial impacts” of the legislation, and will share the results in the coming months. A spokesperson for the Kenney administration said: “We believe that over time this legislation will improve us all.”

“Airport workers – many of whom are black and brown and were on the front lines of the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – deserve to earn a living and living wage to support their families,” said spokesman Kevin Lessard told the Inquirer. “At the same time, we understand the pressures on airport companies, especially small concessionaires, given the difficult economic environment and the effect of the pandemic on travel.”

Johnson’s legislation was supported by two unions: 32BJ SEIU, which represents more than 2,500 service employees at PHL, and UNITE HERE, which represents approximately 1,200 people who work in catering and concessions at the airport.

PHL’s largest carrier, American Airlines, opposed the measure. According to a report by the ApplicantAmerican executive vice president for corporate affairs told Johnson in a letter dated June 16 that the bill “will have a negative impact on service levels, especially international service levels,” in Philadelphia “.

American Airlines did not respond to PhillyVoice’s request for comment on the new law on Sunday evening. In the spring, the airline laid off 28 of its employees at PHL and put more than 1,000 on leave after passenger volume at the airport fell about 70% in 2020 compared to 2019.

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