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Hundreds Of Houston Airport Workers To Get Raise, Higher Minimum Wage

There will be gradual increases starting this year, reaching $12 per hour by 2021. SEIU Texas welcomes the raise, but says the union will keep fighting for $15 per hour.

Chris Paul/Houston Public Media
City Council Member Robert Gallegos and Mayor Sylvester Turner pose with members of the unions SEIU Texas and Unite Here! after Turner signed an executive order to increase the minimum wage for Houston airport workers.

Hundreds of workers at Houston's three airports will get a raise under an executive order Mayor Sylvester Turner signed Wednesday.

The executive order requires airlines and concession businesses that enter future contracts with the City of Houston to pay their airport employees a minimum hourly wage of $10.39 in 2019, $11.22 in 2020, and $12 in 2021 and 2022. Currently, these workers are earning between $7.25 and $9 per hour on average, according to SEIU Texas, a workers union.

“The order guarantees that hundreds of workers at Bush Intercontinental, Hobby and Ellington airports ultimately will be paid well above the federal and state minimum hourly wage of seven dollars and twenty-five cents,” Turner said while he signed the executive order at Houston City Hall.

The policy will also apply to workers who are subcontracted by airlines and concession businesses like restaurants and souvenir shops.

Turner said he has met with airport workers who have told him that many can't make ends meet. Members of the unions SEIU Texas and Unite Here have asked the mayor and city council to approve a raise over the past few months.

Among those who have lobbied for the increase is Monique Warren, who works as a baggage handler.

“Twelve dollars an hour means I will be able to pay my bills on time, not having to choose between groceries and rent,” she said.

Iris Thomas, a barista with United Airlines at Bush Intercontinental Airport, said the raise is needed.

“Working at the airport for years, I’ve met many people whose (bank) account was always either in the negative or they just can’t survive on what they make,” she said.

SEIU Texas President Elsa Caballero said the raise is a first step and thanked Turner, but added her union will continue to work toward a $15 hourly wage.

Below, you can watch Mayor Turner's announcement of the raise for airport workers.


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