Nearly 150 aircraft fuelers, dispatchers and mechanics employed by Swissport have finally received word that they were successful in their effort to join Teamsters Local 174. The mostly-immigrant workgroup is based at SeaTac airport, and is responsible for fueling all commercial aircraft departing from that airport.
“These individuals perform technically difficult work that has a direct impact on public safety, yet Swissport pays them minimum wage without benefits. Turnover is sky-high as a result,” said Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks.
“For the work they do, these people deserve far better treatment. The customers of Alaska Airlines and all the flying public deserves better. We are proud to see them standing together to tell their employer that they will not be taken advantage of anymore.”
The fuelers will join their 13 fellow Swissport employees working at the SeaTac fuel farm as members of Teamsters Local 174.
The election victory comes after a difficult organizing campaign spearheaded by Local 174 Director of Organizing Meaza Ogbe.
“We faced numerous challenges, especially language and cultural barriers, but those were ultimately overcome by speaking a language we can all understand: the language of respect,” said Ogbe.
“I am so proud of the courage these workers demonstrated in standing up to their employer and not falling prey to their manipulations. They are now in a great position to improve their wages, hours and working conditions, which will improve their entire standard of living.”
The election results will be certified next week and the union will begin the process of negotiating a first contract by conducting a demands meeting and listening to the employees on what they wish to accomplish.
“Welcome to our new sisters and brothers to the Teamsters Union, and welcome to a better way of life,” Hicks said. “We are happy to have you in our family.”