Updated 11/19/15 – 8:31 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite tensions over the possibility of more terror attacks like the one in Paris, some security workers at O’Hare International Airport planned to walk off the job on Thursday to demand better pay.
The workers involved are not Transportation Security Administration officers, but private security workers who perform tasks such as checking the IDs before allowing trucks on the airfield, guarding doors near baggage claim areas and security checkpoints, and patrolling terminals to watch for suspicious activity so they can report it to airport police. TSA officers, who screen passengers, are not part of the walkout
The 160 private security workers have said they want a $15-an-hour wage, and they planned a one-day strike Thursday to protest what they claim are unfair labor practices by their employer, Universal security. They planned to hold a rally at Terminals 2 and 3 at 8 a.m.
SEIU has organized pickets today at half a dozen airports. In other cities, they include ramp workers, baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners, terminal cleaners and passenger service workers.
Miltko said that some 2,000 plane cleaners, baggage handlers and other workers will strike at New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, as well as Newark Liberty, Boston, Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale.
“We don’t receive enough money to pay the rent,” said Damaso Mejia, a worker involved with the SEIU who cleans and checks plane interiors for suspicious objects at New York Kennedy for $10.10 an hour.
He said he will start working a second job next month and will log 18-hour days to supplement his income.
The workers also have been trying to form a labor union.
“Every time they try to have a voice on the job, or speak out about things, they are retaliated against,” said Izabela Miltko, a spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union Local 1.