The rental car workers have been organizing for over six months to become Teamsters and win respect from management. Leonard Smith, organizing director at Local 117, says the victory will inspire other low-wage non-union workers at the airport:
This victory is an exciting step forward for all workers at the Seattle Airport. It’s an example of how working together and sticking together truly pays off. By uniting for respect and dignity, the workers are showing other employees at the airport that they can come together and fight to improve their lives.
Smith says that many workers at the airport are employed by companies like GCA, which is a contractor for Avis. These workers lack job security and are paid minimum wage. The GCA workers are setting an example for other Seattle airport workers by standing up for higher wages, benefits and paid sick days.
In its press release on the victory, Local 117 explained that the GCA campaign is connected to the broader movement to secure higher pay for low-wage workers:
The campaign for Teamster representation at GCA – which included help from organizers at Teamsters Local 174, SEIU and Working Washington – is part of an ongoing coalition effort among local unions and community groups organizing to win better working conditions for employees at the Seattle Airport.
The coalition has been working to organize non-union airport workers employed by contractors like GCA and others. In conjunction with other national campaigns to demand higher pay for low-wage workers, the coalition is pushing a ballot initiative in SeaTac, Wash., to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15.
Tracey Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 117, says the organizing win sets the stage for pushing up standards for other workers at the airport:
We are pleased to welcome these hardworking and dedicated workers who are so vital to the rental car operations of GCA. We look forward to representing them and helping them win a first contract that sets higher standards for them and other workers at the airport.
The GCA workers in Seattle join hundreds of other rental car workers at Hertz, Avis and Budget who also belong to Local 117.