Thursday, October 6, 2011

Aldermen, community leaders: no more multi-billion dollar aiport deals that leave Chicago communities behind

From Unite Here Local 1:

Chicago, IL - Twenty Chicago aldermen, area community leaders, and more than 300 O'Hare and Midway airport concessions workers and allies rallied at City Hall Wednesday morning as aldermen introduced the Stable Jobs, Stable Airports Ordinance to ensure stability for O'Hare and Midway passengers, City revenue, and Chicago communities as Chicago puts airport concession contracts worth $2.5 billion out to bid. Thirty one aldermen have signed on as cosponsors of the ordinance.

"The last thing the City of Chicago needs is another set of unemployed workers," said Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), lead sponsor of the ordinance. "With 84 million passengers passing through our airports in Chicago, with sales that are six times as much per square foot as any other place in the City of Chicago, and with bulk of these concessions controlled by multinational corporations that take profits away from the City of Chicago, we have to stand up and act."

In the coming months more than 1,500 Chicago residents could be thrown out of work at O'Hare and Midway airports as the City cuts multi-billion dollar deals with big multinational companies in the largest turnover of concessions in Chicago's history.

"I need my job. Where will I go? I need to support my family. I've worked here [at O'Hare] for 23 years. What will I do if I lose my job?" saidAida Olavarria, an O'Hare food service worker and resident of Chicago's Humboldt Park community.

While 70% of O'Hare and Midway concessions are controlled by multinational companies based overseas, they have used a loophole to evade Chicago's "living wage" of $11.18 per hour for contractors, pocketing millions of dollars that should go to Chicago workers and communities.

"It troubles me to see so many people struggling to pay for basic things like food or rent, while these big corporations are pocketing millions," said Jerry Ward, a retail worker at Midway Airport.

Around the country 18 other airports - including LAX, JFK, Miami, and Cleveland - have utilized standards to protect workers and communities, ensure smooth operations for travelers, and/or protect airport revenue from disruptions during big contract turnovers.

The Stable Jobs Stable Airports ordinance would close the loophole that has enabled airport contracts to evade Chicago's living wage, ensure job stability for thousands of workers, and protect airport revenue from disruptions as new contractors take over.

Aldermen Ervin, Thompson, O'Shea, Chandler, Maldonado, Pawar, Osterman, Cappleman, Pope, Sposato, Foulkes, Cochran, Moreno, Waguespack, Arena, Moore, Graham, Reboyras, Munoz, and Cullerton joined the press conference or rally to voice their support for the ordinance.

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