Today, Friday, a diverse delegation of over 50 clergy led a march near SeaTac Airport of more than 500 workers and community supporters calling on Alaska Airlines to make every airport job a good job.
UPDATE: Over 50 clergy & 500 marched to Alaska Airlines headquarters demanding good jobs, fair pay
Today a diverse delegation of over 50 clergy, including Muslim, Christian and Sikh leaders, led a march near SeaTac Airport of more than 500 workers and community supporters south on International Blvd starting at the Doubletree Inn at S. 188th St. Faith leaders and airport workers delivered a letter to Alaska Airlines and its CEO, Brad Tilden, urging him to offer higher paying jobs with benefits to workers now making $9 to $11 per hour with no benefits. Tilden did not appear, so the letter was received by a few employees under him. According to Working Washington, a conversation occurred, but with little substance offered by the airline.
Hundreds of marchers continued on to a rally at Angle Lake Park in SeaTac, adjacent to the Alaska Airlines headquarters.
The civil rights organization Working Washington was there in support of the workers and helped assist in the march. They represent labor, immigration, and faith-based groups.
Alaska Airlines workers such as skycaps, baggage handlers, fuelers, and cabin cleaners, many of them immigrants and refugees, are contracted out by Alaska Airlines which they feel provides the company cover to avoid taking more responsibility for its work force.
About half a dozen ministers led with a banner reading "Faith Leaders say: Make Every Airport Job a Good Job". Front row center was Rev. John Helmiere
of Valley and Mountain Fellowship a United Methodist church in Columbia City.
"I'm standing with the workers for social justice," he told the Highline TImes. "We're not asking for charity or some kind of big gift. We're just asking for their humanity to be recognized, and to get what they deserve, a living wage.
"There is a spiritual crisis when we have become so disconnected that some are making millions of dollars like the executives at Alaska Airlines and others (employees) are making nine dollars an hour," he added. "Brothers have forgotten that they belong to each other. I stand in the tradition of Jesus where we realize that we are all brothers and sisters and children of God."
Marching next to Rev. Helmiere was Michael Ramos, Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle.
"Alaska Airlines is making a good profit, pretends to be a good citizen in the community but the workers here can't live on nine to eleven dollars an hour," Ramos said. "They need a good job with good wages and benefits, and job security. We talk a lot about security at the airport but the economic security of the workers matters to people of faith so we demand a conversation with the CEO so he does right by the workers.
"The Port of Seattle has a responsibility in this situation," added Ramos. "They are responsible to the tax payer and can't wash their hands of this responsibility. Similarly, Alaska Airlines cannot wash its hands of its workers just because it subcontracts out. They are responsible for the workers here and the workers here are doing a hard job, and are contributing to the success at the airport and they need to get their fare share."