Airport workers say MAC min. wage hike not high enough

The Metropolitan Airports Commission is proposing a minimum wage hike at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to $10 an hour, but that's nowhere near what airport workers want.

The MAC will consider raising the airport's minimum wage by one dollar, but only when the state's minimum wage goes up, and that vote won't happen until next month.

Abera Siyoum, 36, drives passenger carts through the terminals for the company Air Serve. He's done it for more than two years, but makes $8 an hour and says it's difficult supporting his wife and three young children on this salary.

At a public meeting on Monday, Siyoum, along with other airport workers and their supporters asked the MAC to require pay to be at least $15 per hour for roughly $3,000 workers. However, the MAC only agreed to consider raising the airport's minimum wage by $1 when the state's minimum wage goes up.

The advocacy group 15 Now Minnesota defines a low wage worker as someone making less than $15 per hour and says industry groups like Airlines for America, which represents Delta and other carriers, are intentionally trying to suppress hourly wages, even though airline profits and executive pay are at or near all-time highs.

After hearing about this disconnect, Gov. Dayton agreed airport workers needed a voice, and this past February, appointed cart driver Ibrahim Mohamed to the commission, but at least Siyoum says MAC is still out of touch.

"I want to be very clear that a $1 raise will not be enough for me to spend more time with my children and still pay my bills," he said.

The proposed hike does not apply to concession or rental car workers. MAC will vote on June 15.

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