Congresswoman Summer Lee Spends Day Joining Workers On the Frontlines of Labor Fight in Pittsburgh

**For immediate release**

 Contact: Emilia.rowland@mail.house.gov (330) 212-2065

Congresswoman Summer Lee Spends Day Joining Workers On the Frontlines of Labor Fight in Pittsburgh

(Pittsburgh, PA – July 10th, 2023) – On Thursday, July 6th, Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12) took to Pittsburgh International Airport and the streets of Pittsburgh to stand up and fight for the workers of Western Pennsylvania.

Congresswoman Lee hosted a roundtable at Pittsburgh International Airport alongside Chris Deluzio (PA-17) and current service workers to fight for better wages and benefits. This roundtable featured both unionized and non-unionized service workers who discussed the challenges they face and the benefits of having a union to go up to bat for you. The findings of this roundtable included:

  • Unionized workers made nearly $20 an hour, whereas non-unionized workers made around $13
  • Unionized workers had health insurance, non-unionized workers did not.
  • Unionized workers got paid time off/sick leave, non-unionized workers were extremely limited in time off.
  • Unionized workers get free parking while working at the airport, non-unionized workers have to pay $7 a day to park at work, even with lower wages.

The non-unionized service workers at the airport stressed the long hours and hard work made harder by understaffing, a lack of paid time off, and having to tiptoe around their job to not get injured fearing a hospital bill they cannot afford.

Congresswoman Lee said, “We need to make sure that people want to work here. We need to make sure that it’s accessible for people to work here. It’s absurd that anybody would be paying for parking. But those basic things, paid sick leave, paid family leave and universal health care, I believe are the three things that every single American worker, wherever they work across this country, should have. Period.”

The roundtable follows a month of escalation with actions in 20 cities to demand Congress take action to include ‘Good Jobs for Good Airports Act’ wage and benefit standards in upcoming FAA Reauthorization to ensure airport service jobs in publicly-funded airports have wage and benefit standards, stabilize the workforce, keep airports secure and maintain on-time travel. Passing the ‘Good Jobs for Good Airports’ Bill at the national level is essential to standardizing wages and benefits and ensuring travel disruptions do not happen simply because airports cannot maintain proper staffing due to low wages and benefits.

After the Airport workers roundtable, Congresswoman Lee joined a rally with hundreds of advocates and striking workers from Local 506 & 618 at Wabtec Corporate HQ in Pittsburgh while they fight an onslaught of union-busting tactics. The striking workers are also fighting for a family-sustaining wage for new hires, to maintain their healthcare, vision, and dental insurances, and for company accountability by restoring their right to strike over grievances. Over 1,400 UE members from the two locals have been on strike since Thursday, June 22, when they voted down Wabtec’s last, best and final offer by a wide margin.

“I want to thank you all so much for waging the fight,” Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12) shouted to the crowd, “We know that companies like Wabtec are never going to move unless we the people move them. We are sending a message to Wabtec and every other company and corporation in western Pennsylvania that Pittsburgh is a union town. We’re going to let them know how strong our movement really is from our coffee workers to our Post-Gazette workers and everybody else in between, this is how we’re going to win the green jobs of the future!”

Several speakers expressed strong disapproval of corporate greed, citing examples such as Wabtec’s $750 million share buyback initiative and CEO Rafael Santana’s $11 million compensation package. They also conveyed their frustration regarding the company’s delaying tactics during negotiations and the employment of scab workers by Wabtec.

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