Earlier this month, I stood alongside my fellow airport service workers, union leaders and members of Congress at the reintroduction of the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act. I was so proud to be there, sharing my story in front of the Capitol and demanding better for our jobs and for air travel.
It was truly a day that I will never forget.
I’m a wheelchair agent at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport—the world's busiest airport. It gets so busy, especially during the chaotic holiday travel season. I help passengers with disabilities who need assistance get around the airport. It’s hard work, both physically and mentally, but it’s an important job and one that I take pride in.
Despite being essential to the airline industry, airport service workers like myself are barely paid enough to get by. We put everything on the line for our jobs and work incredibly hard but get so little in return.
Airlines are failing us. I have to work over 70 hours a week just to make ends meet. It’s wrong that so many essential airport workers struggle to put food on the table and can’t afford to see a doctor. All the while many of the major airlines are raking in record profits.
The truth is, air travel is a mess right now for everyone. Passengers are suffering and airport service workers are taking on more work with less staff. We are understaffed because workers don’t want to take jobs that pay poverty wages and provide no benefits. For me, this means more pressure to help all the passengers we can even though we don’t have enough workers to do so.
The airlines don’t care about the working people who are the backbone of the airline industry, or the traveling public who are paying increasingly high ticket prices to fly. That’s why we were in D.C. calling on Congress to hold greedy airlines accountable and fix our broken air travel system by including the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act in the FAA Reauthorization.
This bill will transform all airport jobs into good jobs with the wages, benefits, and healthcare we need to take care of ourselves and our families. It also will help stabilize the airline industry that is failing workers and passengers.
I’ll be honest, when I first got to the podium to speak in D.C. I was pretty nervous, but feeling all the support from everyone there really energized me and got me fired up for the fight ahead. We can’t wait any longer for change. It’s time for Congress to stand with us and support us.
And we aren't alone. Airport service workers are part of a larger, unstoppable movement of service workers taking on corporations like American Airlines, Starbucks and Amazon. We are demanding Unions for All so that every worker, no matter their background, has a good union job. Together we can rewrite the rules and build a brighter future for all working people.
By Rio Bryant, Wheelchair Agent at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport