Union, two Philly airport contractors reach deal to negotiate labor pact

 An American Airlines flight nears Philadelphia International Airport. AP file photo)

An American Airlines flight nears Philadelphia International Airport. AP file photo)

A new agreement aims to prevent future labor strife at Philadelphia International Airport. It’s also designed to bring about a first-of-its-kind contract with hundreds of workers from wheelchair attendants to baggage handlers.

The deal establishes a process for two airport contractors and the Service Employees International Union to work out a labor accord, said Michael Minerva, a vice president at American Airlines.

“Under the law that will apply here, it will put an end to the threat of labor disruptions among these groups,” he said Tuesday of the previously unrepresented workers.

The agreement is a big step toward ensuring living wages for the men and women who work for the airport contractors, said Gabe Morgan of the SEIU.

“Now they finally have a process where they know their rights are going to be respected, their union is going to be recognized, and they will have the contract they have been fighting for for a long time,” Morgan said.

Airport worker Alfred Williams said he’s proud of the work he and others do, and he wants to be paid a fair wage.

“It will help a lot of people who are struggling to not struggle anymore,” he said after the agreement was announced. “The pathway to middle class starts here and it starts now.”

Workers have gone out on strike many times over the years, trying to win representation and a contract.

The agreement allows for six months of negotiations before both sides will be forced into an arbitration process.

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