Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - March 20, 2019 


Joe Biden tells supporters he intends to run in the 2020 presidential election. Also, on the Wednesday rundown: A landmark bill in California would ban toxic chemicals in cosmetics; and groups sue to end disease-spreading elk feeding.

Daily Newscasts

Portland Airport Workers Win Wage Raise

Gladys Hernandez, a passenger service assistant at Portland International Airport, says she has struggled to afford necessities while living on an hourly wage of $12. (SEIU Local 49)
Gladys Hernandez, a passenger service assistant at Portland International Airport, says she has struggled to afford necessities while living on an hourly wage of $12. (SEIU Local 49)
December 21, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland International Airport workers have scored a major victory and will start receiving a minimum wage of $15 an hour starting in 2019.

The wage increase from $12 to $15 will go to passenger service assistants, who transport passengers through the airport. Workers have been calling for a wage increase and better conditions for years, and held a day of action in October, in tandem with airport workers around the globe.

Maggie Long is executive director of the Service Employees International Union – or SEIU – Local 49, which represents about 450 contracted PDX workers at different companies. She says these workers have struggled with poverty wages for years.

"To be seeing a $3 wage increase is just going to have a profound impact on people's lives,” says Long. “And so, very excited to see workers be able to move forward."

The wage increase brings PDX closer to other major U.S. airports. This year, San Francisco approved raising contract workers' minimum wage to $17 an hour, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a $19 per-hour minimum wage for 40,000 workers at three airports that serve New York City.

Gladys Hernandez is a passenger service assistant at PDX and says this victory wouldn't have been possible without the union. Hernandez says making $12 an hour, she's had to make tough decisions between necessities like medicine and housing – and a $3 increase will make a big difference.

"I was speaking with my husband, 'We cannot pay the mortgage with $12 an hour!' But 15? Yes, and we still can pay electricity. We can pay all the bills," says Hernandez.

While hundreds of passenger service assistants will see a raise, Long says other workers, such as baggage handlers and aircraft cleaners, still are fighting for an increase.

"Airlines continue to make record profits and workers who help fuel those flights, clean those flights, keep the airports running, need to not be left behind," says Long.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR