Chicago O’Hare Airport Workers to Strike after Thanksgiving

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.

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.

Terminal 3 at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. O'Hare Intl Airport/Flickr strike

Terminal 3 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. O’Hare Intl Airport/Flickr

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!

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  1. ORD is my home airport and flew to/from Hawaii this last week and based on the bathrooms I was in, they started their strikes a few weeks ago….or maybe a few years. I feel like the ORD bathrooms are usually pretty gross…as bathrooms go.

  2. I’m not for this sort of labor tactic but shouldn’t they Unionize and negotiate before threatening to strike on a Holiday weekend?
    I think such positions should be more than minimum wage however a jump from $8 to $15 all at once also seems out of place. For example let’s say you started at ORD as a wheelchair agent or whatever 10 years ago and love your job. You’ve worked hard to climb from minimum wage to say $12 an hour and now they want to move you to $15 an hour along with a person that just started this week with no experience.

  3. I don’t think that I have ever left O’Hare on time, ever. So, a strike that “may cause delays” at an airport where I expect delays is not that threatening.

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