(Originally posted here) By Keiana Greene-Page
“Please take what we did in Seattle and export it across the country,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray told a crowd Wednesday during a panel discussion on the minimum wage at the Center for American Progress.
Also speaking at the CAP event was SeaTac Airport worker Socrates Bravo. He says the national minimum wage debate is about more than finances; it’s about families.
As a ramp agent for SeaTac subcontractor Menzies Aviation, Bravo has to work more than 20 hours of overtime per week to try to make ends meet. His hectic schedule means sacrificing valuable quality time with his 2-year-old daughter.
“She is asleep when I get home and still sleeping when I leave for work,” he says. “It’s very sad but missing our children growing up is the reality for me and other co-workers.”
Bravo discussed the impact of big businesses using bad contractors to hold down wages and benefits in cities across the nation at Wednesday’s panel which included SEIU Executive Vice President Valarie Long, SEIU Healthcare 775NW President David Rolf, CAP Action Fund President Ted Strickland, UCLA Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment Michael Reich, and Nick Hanauer of Second Avenue Partners.
Bravo also told how airport workers in partnership with the community have fought successfully to pass Proposition 1 in SeaTac.
Although the bill to increase SeaTac’s minimum wage is being fought in the courts, airport workers have helped build momentum among workers and elected officials in Washington. Earlier this year, Seattle City Council passed its $15 minimum wage bill. Just last week, 33,000 Washington home care workers won a new union contract with hourly wages above $14 and a retirement plan.
Bravo hopes these victories will inspire other cities and Congress to take action to address the challenges mothers and fathers face while working hard to provide for their families.
Low wages are especially unfair for airport ramp workers like Socrates who put their lives on the line every day. Since 2006, four Menzies workers have died following accidents at US airports. Last week, an American Airlines contract worker died in Detroit.
“The fight at SeaTac airport that spread to Seattle is not just about receiving a $15 an hour minimum wage. It’s about fairness, dignity and respect,” Bravo said. “It allows a voice to the voiceless. It allows us to live a life. As parents, we just want to give our children an opportunity to live a better life than we lived.”