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As Congress Debates Legislation On Airport Security, Workers and Community Groups Say Realsecurity Means Higher Wages and More Rights for Airport Employees

November 08, 2001

Congressional negotiators met yesterday to try and reconcile competing bills on airport security, but adjournedwithout agreement after only an hour. The House and Senate have been unable to agree on the key issue of whetherthousands of airport security workers should be put on government payrolls. The Senate last week unanimously passeda bill that would federalize airport security workers. Days later the House passed a bill that would keep privatecontractors in charge of airport workers but bring them under tighter federal regulation.

The bitter Congressional fight, however, has obscured real differences in the labor movement over how best toorganize airport workers. Community groups involved with airport workers say the debate has also obscured thequestion of how wages and working conditions affect airport security.


  • Ken Jacobs, Director of the Bay Area Organizing Project, which has helped to organize airport workers inthe Bay Area and recently completed a study of the impact of higher wages on airport security.
  • Tom Martin, Skycap at San Francisco International Airport for 17 years and an activist with the livingwage coalition that helped to organize the airport workers.