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In First Public Action, Sodexo Workers Demand Fair Process For Unionization

Austin, Texas – Sodexo workers normally spend their time at the Austin airport serving frequent travelers in the United and Delta lounges – an oasis for customers during chaotic travel experiences. Today, however, lounge workers alerted customers of their demand that Sodexo grant a fair and neutral process for workers to decide on unionization. UNITE HERE Local 23 represents food service workers for HMS Host, Delaware North, and LSG Sky Chefs at the Austin airport. Because of their union contract, these workers receive regular wage increases, affordable healthcare, and other benefits. “I’ve been working since I was 14 and have 16 years of experience in the service industry. Now, at 38 years old, all I want is to start a family and own a home.

1,000 SFO Restaurant Workers Go On Strike

Restaurant workers at San Francisco International Airport declared a general strike early Monday morning after more than nine months of negotiations with their employers.  Unite Here Local 2, the union representing SFO's food service workers, announced in a press release that 1,000 of SFO's cashiers, cooks, baristas, bartenders, servers and dishwashers are participating in the strike. The workers are employed by 84 airport restaurant outlets, all of whom are represented by the SFO Airport Restaurant Employer Council.  "The workers' compensation is currently not enough to live on," Anand Singh, president of Unite Here Local 2, told SFGATE. "[The employers] have not moved nearly enough to get to the place where we can make a deal on a new contract. And that's why we've had to go down this road."

41 Arrested In San Francisco Airport Fast Food Worker Protest

Forty-one people were arrested Friday at San Francisco International Airport as airport fast food workers protested their wages, according to Unite Here, the union that represents many SFO workers. The protesters sat on the airport road outside Terminal 3, blocking traffic. Hundreds of workers and supporters showed up to join in the protest, chanting and forming picket lines. Politicians such as State Senator Josh Becker and Assemblymember Ash Kalra were also at the protest. Most fast food workers at SFO make $17.05 per hour according to the union, which is less than many meals cost at the airport. Some workers said they have not had a raise in three years and have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. “I have to work two jobs to support my family, and I’m exhausted from living on four hours of sleep a day,” said Lucinda To, a lounge attendant at the United Club and a server at Cat Cora’s Kitchen at SFO.

Penguin Climate Activists Block Berlin Airport Opening

Berlin - The climate justice group 'Am Boden bleiben', a member of the international Stay Grounded network, today blocks the opening of the new airport in Berlin with protest actions. The opening of the BER had been delayed for nine years, after a series of expensive construction and corruption issues. Am Boden bleiben carries out an action of civil disobedience and says that there is no room for new airports in times of climate crisis. You can follow the action live on the Twitter accounts of Am Boden bleiben and Stay Grounded. 

With Another Shutdown Looming, Flight Attendants Plan Demonstrations On February 16

Congressional negotiators told Politico on Friday that they’re working on a deal that will prevent a second government shutdown on February 15. If they fail — or if President Trump again refuses to accept whatever compromise they reach — hundreds of thousands of federal workers and subcontractors will find themselves without income once more. The last shutdown ended, in part, because workers revolted: After missing two paychecks, ten air traffic controllers called in sick, an absence significant enough to severely delay air traffic in New York City and Washington. Now, as another shutdown looms, workers are preparing for the worst. Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA...

Sickouts Spread, Impact Widens As US Shutdown Enters Fourth Week

The impact of the longest government shutdown in US history continues to ripple across the economy as more than 800,000 federal workers and many thousands more government contractors try to cope with missed paychecks. Spontaneous sickouts by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners led this weekend to the closure of terminals and checkpoints at two airports, Miami International Airport Friday through Sunday and Houston’s Bush Airport on Sunday. The rate of unscheduled leave for TSA workers, among the lowest paid of federal employees, is increasing across the country. On Saturday, officials admitted that nearly eight percent of the 51,000 TSA workforce failed to report to work.

Controversial AI ‘Lie Detectors’ Coming To EU Airports, Border Crossings

Several European airports will deploy an AI-powered lie detector at border checkpoints in a trial run of the new technology, reports CNN.  When a passenger approaches customs, they will be asked a series of questions by a "virtual border guard avatar," which will use an Artificial Intelligence to monitor their faces to quickly determine whether they are lying in an effort to reduce congestion.  The avatar will become "more skeptical" and change its tone of voice if it believes a person has lied, before referring suspect passengers to a human guard and allowing those believed to be honest to pass through, said Keeley Crockett of Manchester Metropolitan University in England, who was involved in the project.

Workers At 40 Airports Will Stage Demonstrations In October

On Tuesday, October 2, employee demonstrations organized by the Airport Workers United campaign will take place at over 40 airports in 13 countries. The demonstrations are intended to mobilize wheelchair attendants, baggage handlers and other laborers who perform low-skilled jobs at airports to demand higher pay and better working conditions. Protests will be held in Baltimore, Seattle, Los Angeles, Newark, Boston and airports across Europe. Combined, 36 percent of all air travel passes through the affected airports. The group behind the Airport Workers United campaign is the Service Employees International Union(SEIU). The SEIU has over two million members worldwide and is a heavy-hitter when it comes to funding Democrats, shelling out $1.4 million to congressional candidates in the 2016 election cycle and $780,346 in the 2018 cycle according to data released by the FEC on Sept. 24.

More Than 200 Protest Deportations At Gary Airport Under Eye Of Armed SWAT Officers

For Richard Aguirre, protesting the deportations of people who have entered the country without permission from the Gary/Chicago International Airport was a natural extension of his work that stopped a proposed Elkhart County detention center last month. Gary activists had reached out, providing support and assistance for the effort, Aguirre said. He wanted to return the favor. "We feel connected to them, because they were with us when we started our struggle, so we want to be here as they continue their fight against these flights," said Aguirre, co-coordinator of the Coalition Against the Elkhart County Immigration Center. Shouting cries including "love, not hate makes America great," more than 200 protesters came to the Gary Jet Center on Friday where a busload of people who had entered the country illegally were expected to be boarded onto a plane for Texas, then deported.

Hundreds Of Workers Go On Strike At Reagan National & Dulles

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of contracted airport service workers walked off the job Wednesday morning at Dulles International and Reagan National airports, speaking out against their employer and demanding to be paid a minimum of $15 an hour. “They’re on strike today to demand higher standards,” said protest organizer Jaime Contreras, vice president of Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ. “This is something that is very hard for them to do, but they’ve had enough.” The employees, including baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants, are with Huntleigh USA Corporation, a contractor that does business directly with airlines. It has around 400 workers at the two airports. Organizers of the demonstration said the employees often have to work two or three jobs to support their families and earn as little as $6.15 an hour plus tips.

Trump Wants To Privatize Air Traffic Control. What Could Go Wrong?

By Shaun Richman for In These Times - Promising “cheaper, faster and safer travel,” the Trump administration announced a plan this week to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system. The announcement Monday marked the first day of the administration’s “infrastructure week,” a series of publicity events around one of the only areas of the president’s agenda that has intrigued some union leaders and Democratic legislators. What they had hoped for was an increase in public spending to create good jobs and repair our nation’s transportation systems. What Trump wants is to give public assets away to corporate interests, while reducing pay and benefit standards for workers. The official justification for privatizing air traffic control is to speed the conversion from a radar-based system to a more accurate GPS one. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been converting the system, but it does not anticipate finishing the job until 2020. An actual investment in infrastructure could give the FAA the resources it needs to do it faster, but if Republican politicians have any true religion, it is belief in the magic of the “free” market.

More Biometric Scanning Is Coming Soon To U.S. Airports

By Suzy Strutner for The Huffington Post - So the government is looking for a way ― probably using facial recognition, but potentially using eye scans or other measures too ― to verify which travelers have left the country by collecting biometric data right before passengers board a flight. This isn’t a new idea: Many countries already use face scans extensively in their airports and train stations, and the U.S. has been working on its own way to track exiting travelers for more than 20 years. However, CBP is now under extra pressure to choose a method and get a system into airports, said Theresa Cardinal Brown, an immigration expert at the Bipartisan Policy Center. So yes, more face scans are coming soon, even for U.S. citizens. In 2015, CBP started piloting biometric exit programs in America’s 10 busiest airports by using fingerprint scans. But the agency chose facial recognition as one of the easiest ways to do so, Gabris said, and will move forward with that. Last year, CBP started piloting face-scanning technology on some travelers exiting Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

58% Increase In Electronic Device Searches On International Air Passengers In U.S.

By Mark Nensel for ATW - US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) searched approximately 4,600 electronic devices, or 0.008%, of approximately 58 million incoming international air passengers and crew in the first six months of the US government’s FY 2017 (October 2016-March 2017), according to CBP statistics released April 11. The figure represents a 57.6% increase in the number of electronic devices searched during the six-month period compared to approximately 2,900 devices searched on incoming international air passengers and crew in the first six months of FY 2016. Compared to two years ago, the number of electronic devices searched has more than tripled. CBP said its increase of electronic device searches corresponds to how the agency “adjusted its actions to align with current threat information.” “Electronic device searches are integral in some cases to determining an individual’s intentions upon entering the US,” CBP deputy executive assistant commissioner, Office of Field Operations, John Wagner said. CBP said its searches have resulted in evidence helpful in combating terrorist activity, child pornography, export control violations, intellectual property rights violations and visa fraud.

TSA Warns Police To Expect Complaints From New Intrusive Searches

By Justin Bachman for Bloomberg - The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has declined to say exactly where—and how—employees will be touching air travelers as part of the more invasive physical pat-down procedure it recently ordered. But the agency does expect some passengers to consider the examination unusual. In fact, the TSA decided to inform local police in case anyone calls to report an “abnormal” federal frisking, according to a memo from an airport trade association obtained by Bloomberg News. The physical search, for those selected to have one, is what the agency described as a more “comprehensive” screening, replacing five separate kinds of pat-downs it previously used.

U.S. Airport Pat-Downs Are About To Get More Invasive

By Justin Bachman for The Spokeman-Review - While few have noticed, U.S. airport security workers long had the option of using five different types of physical pat-downs at the screening line. Now, those have been eliminated, replaced instead with one universal approach. And this time, you will notice. The new physical touching – for those selected to have a pat-down – will be more invasive in what the federal agency describes as a more “comprehensive” physical screening, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman. Denver International Airport, for example, notified employees and flight crews on Thursday that the “more rigorous” searches “will be more thorough...
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