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2 beneficial bills

Goode seeks to extend protection to airport, hotel workers

Councilman Wilson Goode is looking out for the faceless workers who do the behind-the-scenes work at the airport and at hotels.

They are the anonymous people who we rarely see as they do the hard, dirty jobs, but whose work makes possible the smooth functioning of the airport and local hotels. Because they don't work directly for the city, they are not covered by city wage rules, but two bills before City Council on Thursday aim to make their lives more livable.

Sponsored by Councilman Goode, one (Bill No. 140829) is directed at airport ground handling service providers, the other (Bill No. 140860) at hotels (in which the city has a financial interest).

The bills are two-pronged – they call for "labor peace" agreements, protecting the city's business interests with a no-strike pledge, but also moving the workers up to at least $12 an hour, with health benefits and up to 56 hours of paid sick leave under a new lease in July 2015, mandated by a Goode bill enacted earlier this year.

Under Mayor Nutter's executive order last year, and a city referendum amending the City Charter, these workers should be covered, but have not been.

"The airport is a huge public asset," says Gabe Morgan, a vice president of the 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. "With thousands of people working for poverty wages and under poor conditions, there is good reason to be concerned about disruption at the airport." Goode's legislation addresses those issues.

Under federal law, these workers have a right to organize and be represented by a union. Until that happens, these bills move them closer to a living wage.

They are expected to easily clear Council Thursday, and they should.

I admit my bias upfront, I am pro-working people and pro-union and the two used to go hand in hand.  As much as anything, unions built the American middle-class and now they, and it, are in decline.

There are a few bad unions, most are good. Union haters say unions have too much power.

I've never known a union that could crash the economy. I've never known a union to railroad an innocent person into jail.  I have known unions to lift people out of poverty and provide them with the dignity workers deserve.