MSP workers unite to support health care campaign, Delta union drive

Brahim Kone of SEIU Local 26 leads a rally outside MSP Terminal 2.

Airport workers marched and rallied for health care and union rights outside Terminal 2 in Bloomington today. The action was among dozens staged by airport workers and their unions fighting for safe and stable jobs across the country.

In Minnesota, workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport used the day of action to advance their campaign for affordable health care.

Dawit Meles, who works for airline caterer LSG Sky Chefs, said he picks up overtime shifts to cover the cost of his individual insurance plan. A more affordable option, he said, would give him more time to spend with his family.

“For my single insurance I pay over $300 a month,” he said. “My wife and kids get their insurance through the state because I can’t afford the (family) insurance LSG Sky Chefs offers.”

Meles’ union, UNITE HERE Local 17, and other unions representing airport workers are pushing the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) to amend the ordinance it passed three years ago increasing MSP’s minimum wage, adding an “hourly health and wellness benefit” to the minimum compensation airport contractors must offer their employees.

State Rep. Kaela Berg, a member of the Flight Attendants union, offers solidarity to workers at the rally.

Earlier this year, unions surveyed nearly 300 MSP service workers from 17 different employers and found that, among workers who had health insurance, just 15.2% reported getting coverage through their employers.

“We know that essential airport workers – often Black, Brown and immigrant workers – make this airport the award-winning airport that it is,” SEIU Local 26 Secretary-Treasurer Brahim Kone said. “But too often to make ends meet they have to struggle, and that’s not right. It’s time for those in power to stand up and do what is right for these workers.”

A MAC commissioner who attended the rally sounded receptive to the idea.

“We will look to this coalition for guidance and support as we move forward to try to solve health care and other issues that are important,” Commissioner Rich Ginsberg said, “because it’s the workers that make the airport work.”

The coalition of airport unions behind the rally also included the Teamsters, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and the Machinists – three unions that recently announced a coordinated campaign to support workers attempting to unionize Delta Air Lines.

Delta is turning massive profits, and executives like CEO Ed Bastian, whose pay was 26% higher last year than his peers’, are reaping the benefits. But rank-and-file workers like Miles Dousette, who works for Delta Cargo at MSP Airport, are working two jobs to make ends meet.

“We need a union now,” Delta Cargo worker Miles Dousette tells airport workers at the rally.

“There’s no work-life balance,” said Dousette, in his third year with the company. “They say we’re a family. They say they want this to be a career. Then why don’t we get career wages?”

Dousette said workers in his department earn $18 per hour for their first three years, followed by modest annual increases that top out after the 10th year.

“Delta likes to brag about profit sharing, but I worked six days a week for 10 months straight, and I got the same check as everyone else,” Dousette said.

He told workers at the rally that the company is plagued by understaffing, outdated warehouse equipment and executives who turn a deaf ear to workers’ concerns.

“The scheduling is atrocious, and when we ask management to do something about it, we always hear, ‘we can’t’ or ‘we’re working on it,’” he said. “We need a union now.”


  1. I support the Workers at MSP. Employing over 85,000 workers and being voted one of the best international Airports in the Mid-west. MSP should reflect that honor by taking good care of its employees that make it such a great airport.

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