Workers and their advocates continued their push for a $15 minimum wage at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport at a meeting of the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) Monday. About 25 workers and representatives from UNITE HERE Local 17 and SEIU Local 26 rallied and several gave testimony about how higher wages would benefit them personally.

Robert Conway, an employee of SSP America, said he has been a cook at Black Sheep Pizza for 3 years and makes $14 an hour. “I’m invested,” he said. “I like working here.” But the pay is not sufficient for Conway, a father of 10. “$14 an hour […] is not a livable wage when you have a family and bills to pay.”  According to Conway and coworker Skip Calendar, who testified Monday, other employees of SSP America make as little as $11/hour with 10 years’ experience. 

Workers at MSP and allies, including labor unions and groups like 15 Now Minnesota, have long advocated for higher wages at the airport. Following demonstrations, the MAC voted back in 2015 to raise the airport minimum wage to $10.  But in 2018, with wage increases approved in Minneapolis and St. Paul,  the commission raised concerns about staying competitive with other area employers and opened talksof a $15 minimum wage. 

Following Monday’s meeting, MAC Chair Rick King said via email, “We hope, in consultation with all our stakeholders, to have a $15-an-hour minimum wage ordinance presented for public comment in the early part of the 4thquarter of this year.”

Molly Thul, an organizer with Local 17 and a 19-year employee of HMS Host, an airport food service contractor, said that the MAC has been responsive in this process. Thul hopes to see the raise follow Minneapolis’ implementation schedule. 

At least a dozen other airports have passed $15 around the country, most recently Denver. New York has the highest minimum wage standards for airport workers, with a raise to $19 per hour scheduled to go into effect by 2023. 

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