A group of workers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport announced that they will go on strike on November 29, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. These workers, which include janitors, wheelchair attendants, baggage handlers, and aircraft cabin cleaners, authorized the plan last Thursday. They are looking to raise the minimum wage to $15, which is currently $8.25 in Illinois. Some of these workers—not all—are currently paid the minimum wage.
— Laura A. Harris (@LauraHarrisWFTS) November 21, 2016
Staff members at these positions are not unionized, but are organizing their effort through Service Employees International Union Local 1. Tom Balanoff, the president of SEIU Local 1, told the Chicago Tribune that the strike won’t paralyze the airport, but “will cause some disruption, no doubt.” The workers also plan to picket outside the airpot and walk through the terminals.
The airport said that critical staff, like security screeners and air traffic controllers, will not be part of the strike. United Airlines said that they are working to make sure there are no disruptions as a result of the strike.
As a hub for both United and American Airlines, Chicago O’Hare airport is expected to be the busiest airport for Thanksgiving travel. A study by AirHelp showed that O’Hare has one of the highest percentage of delayed flights during the Thanksgiving week for the past 3 years.
Fortunately, the strike won’t occur until the bulk of Thanksgiving travel is over, so that should minimize the impact to holiday travelers. Airport officials also said that they don’t expect the strike to cause any disruptions, though whether that’s the case remains to be seen. The workers that are planning to strike, like baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, and cabin cleaners, do affect how quickly planes can be turned around. Hopefully their action won’t cause too much of a disruption to passengers!