In nod to organizing efforts, Dayton appoints AirServ worker to MAC

Airport workers and their supporters march outside Terminal 1 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport during a week of action targeting low-wage employers.

Airport workers and their supporters marched outside Terminal 1 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where organizing efforts have focused on raising wages.

Low-wage workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport now have a voice on the airport’s governing body, thanks to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.

Last week Dayton filled two vacancies on the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which owns MSP and six smaller airports in the Metro. One of Dayton’s appointees, Ibrahim Mohamed, works as a cart driver for AirServ, a subcontractor that handles passenger services for Delta Air Lines. He earns the state’s minimum wage, $8 per hour.

Mohamed, a Rosemount resident who has worked at MSP Airport for 11 years, is the first Somali-American to serve on the MAC.

Dayton’ other appointee, Dixie Hoard, is a former Northwest and Delta flight attendant from Thief River Falls. Hoard and Mohamed will participate in their first MAC meeting tomorrow.

Mohamed has been active in efforts to improve AirServ workers’ wages and working conditions by organizing a union, a campaign supported by Local 26 of the Service Employees International Union. SEIU Local 26 announced Mohamed’s appointment in a press release today.

“I am excited to bring the voices of the people that I speak to on a daily basis to the MAC,” Mohamed said via the press release. “In my current position as a cart driver, I speak with hundreds of elderly and disabled passengers each day. I hear about their time in MSP and am the first line of response to help.

“I am excited about this opportunity to serve and to be a leader in connecting new communities to the important work of the Metropolitan Airports Commission.”

In addition to working as a cart driver, Mohamed has served as a baggage runner, ticket verifier and in lavatory and water services. His range of experience, he said, will allow him to serve the residents of his district and be a voice for the workers on the front lines.

“I will work to make sure that workers at the airport are part of the conversations at the MAC, because when workers have fair pay, decent benefits and a reliable schedule, we are able to provide world-class service to passengers,” Mohamed said. “I will continue to stand together with my fellow co-workers as we fight for dignity and respect for all workers at MSP, and will always fight to make sure the needs and concerns of workers and passengers are part of all decisions made by the MAC.”

MSP Airport has been a hotbed of organizing activity in recent months. SEIU Local 26’s organizing campaign is operating in concert with a campaign to raise the airport’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. And more than 20,000 flight attendants at Delta, which uses MSP as a hub for its operations, are poised to vote soon on whether to join the International Association of Machinists.

Local 26 President Javier Morillo said Mohamed will be a strong advocate for workers in his new role.

“We applaud Governor Dayton for insisting that a worker be represented on the MAC, and appointing a great candidate like Ibrahim Mohamed,” Morillo said. “I am excited to see Ibrahim continue the work he has always done fighting to make the MSP airport the best airport it can possibly be for both employees and passengers.”

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