Rental-car workers at MSP airport vote to form a union

By a 3-to-1 margin, employees of GCA Services Group at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport voted yesterday in favor of forming a union. The 162 workers will be represented by Teamsters Local 120.

GCA Services Group is a contractor that provides rental-car companies with services like shuttling, cleaning and detailing their rental vehicles.

Yohannes Asfaw, a GCA employee who worked on the organizing campaign, said the company was not living up to the promises it made to workers. That prompted several workers to look into forming a union.

“When they hire us, they give us an employee handbook,” Asfaw said. “This includes a lot of benefits – breaks, vacation, personal days, holiday pay and raises. But they didn’t give those benefits to us.”

Asfaw and other employees waited 18 months for GCA to make good on the promises in its handbook before taking matters into their own hands in January.

The organizing drive moved quickly, according to Teamsters Local 120 Director of Organizing Rhys Ledger, despite the challenge of communicating with a highly diverse group of workers. The newly formed unit includes members of the Hmong, East African and Latino communities.

GCA “thought they could kind of pit these workers against each other,” Ledger said. “But instead of fighting each other, they all came together.”

Asfaw said workers recognized their common interest in holding the company to its promises.

“Sometimes they were scared,” he said. “But I went to them, one by one, and said, ‘You have to fight for your rights.’”

Ledger and Asfaw credited the hard work of Local 120’s member organizers, volunteers from the local’s established bargaining units who take time out of their days to help out with Local 120’s organizing campaigns.

“I’ve always said I know what the union has done for me and my family,” said Troy Eisenhuth, a member organizer who worked on the GCA organizing campaign. “I want everybody to be able to have that too.”

Asfaw said he and other workers are looking forward to negotiating a contract with GCA – one that will replace that employee handbook the company so often ignored.

“With the union, you can be certain about what you will get,” he said.

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