At the Sea-Tac International Airport, more than two hundred Filipinos work as baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants, and concession staffers. While it’s back-breaking work, most are contract workers that are paid poverty wages, lack paid sick leave and retention security, and often exposed to unsafe conditions. Through Claudia Alexandra Paras, the faith and community organizer of Puget Sound Sage and finance officer of Pin@y sa Seattle, Bayan PNW became deeply involved with the Good Jobs for Sea-Tac Campaign.
Since late December 2012, BAYAN PNW has participated in numerous actions to support concession workers and contract workers. On March 26, six members of our organizations, along with over 20 community members, joined a bus full of workers as they confronted their employers to outline the reasons they need to form a union. Although we were confronted by locked doors and unfriendly greetings, the workers presented their case with the support of the community.
On May 21st Bayan PNW members joined in a direct action against Alaska Airlines, a major employer opposing better working conditions at SeaTac. Some of us bought shares of Alaska Airlines and Co-Coordinator Nicole Ramirez created the primary chant “WE LOVE WORKERS, YES WE DO, WE LOVE WORKERS, HOW ABOUT YOU?”
Eight Bayan PNW members infiltrated the Alaska Airlines stakeholder meeting, dressed in our best business attire to blend in with the other shareholders inside the Bell Harbor convention center. The room was packed with workers, faith leaders, and community supporters. Together we disrupted the meeting with our chants and statements to CEOs and board members. For many, it was an empowering moment to demand Alaska Airlines start listening to the workers and treat them with respect and dignity.