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O'Hare Airport Workers Could Strike During The Holiday Season

By Stephen Gossett in News on Nov 17, 2016 8:23PM

Ald. George Cardenas (12th Ward) speaks at a press conference announcing strike / SEIU Local 1

In a move that could cause travel turbulence during the busy holiday season, “hundreds” of O’Hare International Airport workers voted “overwhelmingly” to strike, union members, labor officials and city reps announced on Thursday.

The strike, which seeks redress from what workers charge are unfair labor practices, could arrive "in the coming days," according to a release.

Striking workers—which include security guards, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, janitors and wheelchair attendant, according to a release from the Service Employees International Union—are seeking $15-per-hour wages and looking to unionize. (They are currently subcontracted employees.) So, yeah, it’s an empirically proven fact that airport lines suck—and we were just dancing on their grave on Monday—but a lack of living wage or bargaining power sucks infinitely more. Please bear in mind should waits approach spring levels—which they probably won't.

“For a year now, O'Hare Airport workers have been standing up and telling their stories, fighting for a living wage, better benefits, and higher standards at the airport,” SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff said in a statement. “Now, they’re ready to do whatever it takes to stand up for themselves against the retaliation they’ve faced.”

“We are sick of talking, we are sick of being retaliated against, and we are ready to take action," said Kisha Rivera, a Scrub, Inc. cabin cleaner.

Striking workers and labor leaders were joined by several Chicago alderman, including Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), Ald. George Cardenas (12), Ald. Ameya Pawar (47), Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41), and Ald. Rick Muñoz (22), who all pledged support for the workers' demands.

O'Hare workers initiated a one-day strike in March of this year over similar demands.