Airport and tourism workers protest at LAX for wage increase

Ashley Mackey Image
Thursday, December 21, 2023
Airport and tourism workers protest at LAX for wage increase
Dozens of airport workers called for an increase in wages as they protested inside LAX.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- About 40 airport workers were out protesting through Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday afternoon.

They said there would have been more if it wasn't for the rain, but regardless they say they will continue to fight for an increased living wage despite the weather.

Members of the SEIU-United Service Workers West union are calling on the L.A. City Council to raise the living wage ordinance for airport and tourism workers. The current starting wage is $18.04 an hour. The increase would be to $25 an hour.

"We feel that that's very appropriate with all the major events coming to Los Angeles in the coming years," said Sebastian Silva, the communications coordinator for the union.

Silva referenced Los Angeles hosting the FIFA World Cup, Super Bowl and the Olympics between 2026 and 2028.

"The City Council has decided to take their time, but airport workers are saying clearly that they don't have the time," Silva said.

The union represents essential workers at the airport like cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants, ramp agents and more. With signs in hand, and as passengers checked into flights, the workers chanted that wages in the city are unlivable.

"Rent is $2,500 and above," said Jovan Houston, a customer service agent at Terminal 5 who was chanting during the protest. "A lot of us workers can't afford to live here in Los Angeles."

"I get paid $16.50, so I feel like they're doing everything they should be to be doing this," said Anthony Johnson, a traveler at the airport who witnessed the protest. "They go crazy. I hope they get what they deserve."

With holiday travel underway and millions of travelers expected to pass through the airport, the workers couldn't have picked a better time to get more attention.

"This is a perfect time because this is going to show that you need us, so pay us what we want," said Shyheim Brown, another traveler at LAX. "This couldn't be a better time to try to emphasize this."

Eyewitness News reached out to the city and hasn't heard back yet, but if the motion gets approved, approximately 40,000 airport, hotel and tourism workers in the city of Los Angeles would see a wage increase to $30 hour by 2028.