FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – More than 1,700 contract workers, including security, lobby agents, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners and janitors at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport soon may get a significant raise.
The Broward County Commission, which oversees the airport, voted unanimously Thursday to close a loophole that had excluded these workers from the county’s living-wage ordinance. Right now, many of the workers make minimum wage – $8.05 an hour – or less if they accept tips.
Commissioner Dale Holness said approving the change was the right thing to do.
“People who work 40 hours a week ought to be earning a living wage. It’s only fair, it’s only just,” he said. “If that doesn’t happen it then means that the rest of the taxpayers have to take care of these people through social services – and that’s not right at all.”
A Florida International University report on the subject found that more than 83 percent of these workers depend on some type of public assistance.
Workers went on strike earlier this month. The new living wage will be $11.68 an hour with health insurance or $13.20 without it. That works out to an extra $7,500 a year.
Professor Ali Bustamante, the author of the report, said the airlines most affected – Spirit and Southwest – have not raised any objections.
“If the vendors pass the cost on to the airlines and the airlines were to pass those costs onto the consumer, the average domestic passenger ticket will increase by about a dollar,” said Bustamante, a professor in the Labor Studies Department and an associate at the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at FIU.
The ordinance still has to go through a public hearing on Oct. 13. If it is approved on second reading, the wage increase would go into effect Jan. 1.