Philadelphia Airport Strike Averted: Mayor Kenney Fosters Communication To Keep American Airlines Workers On The Job During D.N.C. Week

Philadelphia Airport workers will not be going on strike during one of the city’s most visible periods.

Mayor Jim Kenney told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he and Governor Tom Wolf reached an agreement for the disgruntled workers – who identify as S.E.I.U. 32B.J. – not to strike during this week when the Democratic National Convention (D.N.C.) is in Philadelphia.

Specifically, Kenney said that he fostered better communication with American Airlines in order to hammer out the deal.

“Beginning today and into next week, 32B.J. and American will be working together on such an agreement and to ensure the smooth operation of the airport as thousands of delegates from around the country convene for the Democratic National Convention,” said Kenney in a statement, while also crediting U.S. Rep. Robert Brady and City Councilman Bobby Henon for providing “invaluable” help to open the lines of communication between the workers and airline.

At issue for Kenney was the ability of thousands of delegates to make it to Philadelphia in order to officially proclaim presumptive D.N.C. nominee Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for president after more than a year of doing so behind closed doors and subtly in the media.

Hillary Clinton
Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton's behind the scenes ascent to power has been well documented. After this week's D.N.C. in Philadelphia, it will become a whole lot more official. For that reason, Philadelphia did not want a black eye during one of its largest periods of visibility. [Image by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]

Meanwhile, Philadelphia International Airport hub VP for American Airlines Cedric Rockamore publicly lauded the private efforts of Kenney, Wolf, Brady, Henon, and airport CEO Chellie Cameron, whom he said selflessly worked “together to maintain continued harmony at the airport during the Democratic National Convention and thereafter.”

“Beginning this weekend, we anticipate nearly 8,000 delegates and approximately 50,000 convention attendees to be traveling to Philadelphia,” Rockamore told USA Today. “Our focus is on giving all of our customers the best possible service and travel experience.”

This averted strike in Philadelphia during the D.N.C. is unrelated to the decision of numerous airport baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, and airplane cleaners who voted earlier this month to walk off their jobs during the D.N.C. visit. At issue for those workers has been improving scheduling, gaining clarity on sick pay and disciplinary system procedures as well as support in establishing a union.

Philadelphia Airport Strike
Philadelphia Airport Workers came dangerously close to striking during the Democratic National Convention week in the city, to the chagrin of city officials. [Image by Jessica Kourkounis / Getty Images]

This group of workers, in particular, are employed by subcontractors who provide various services in and around the Philadelphia Airport. The employees voted to strike on July 12 in order to give their previously unheard requests for a $15 minimum wage and the ability to unionize more exposure, per USA Today.

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To some, Philadelphia seemingly only actually takes action to protect worker rights when its efforts to squelch those requests are made more public.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Mayor Kenney and Governor Wolf on behalf of [potentially striking] workers,” said S.E.I.U. 32B.J. VP Gabe Morgan, who noted that his group’s members were also “moved by the clergy members of POWER who, just [Thursday], took arrest to defend workers’ rights.”

Several members of that group were arrested for staging a sit-in for solidarity at the airport, suggesting that the city of Philadelphia is actually far more concerned with the appearance of peace and goodwill than they actually are in enforcing it on any sort of discernible level.

“Over the next few days, we will work with American Airlines to reach an agreement,” continued Morgan, who noted that the S.E.I.U. 32B.J. group were primarily concerned with making sure that “workers’ rights are respected and [that] the airport runs smoothly.”

[Photo by Keystone/Getty Images]