Airport workers rally at Atlanta City Hall

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Airport workers and other union members gathered Tuesday at Atlanta City Hall to call attention to a company competing for a contract to build an on-site hotel, travel plaza and office development at the airport.

The workers, members of labor union Unite Here, raised questions about the labor practices of Airmall USA, one of the three companies competing for the contract at Hartsfield-Jackson International. The others are a Regent Partners joint venture and a team of Carter, Majestic Realty Co. and GPM Investments LLC.

Unite Here has sought to organize concessions workers employed by Airmall at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and represents workers at some of the concessions at Hartsfield-Jackson.

The union raised issues about wages and job insecurity and claims black workers sometimes don’t have the same advantages at BWI as white ones. It’s unclear how labor practices in a hotel, travel plaza and office space development contract may differ from a concessions contract. The event in Atlanta could be used to exert pressure in unionization efforts at the Baltimore airport.

The workers gathered at Atlanta City Hall Tuesday morning holding up boards listing black history milestones, in what the union called a “black work matters hall of fame.”

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“We want to make sure that what’s happening at Baltimore’s airport does not happen at ours,” said Alisha Etheredge, a restaurant server at the airport location for Ecco.

Airmall has said in the past that it tripled the number of concessions jobs at BWI since taking over that contract.

“Our programs create more jobs and better jobs,” Airmall has said in a written statement. Airmall was acquired last year by German company Fraport Group.

The union event was an early move coming before companies have even submitted their proposals to the airport. Proposals for the hotel “airport city” project are due Oct. 28, then the airport would review the proposals to select a winner.


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