Alaska Airlines union workers picket for better wages

Alaska Airlines employees and supporters picket outside Juneau International Airport on Monday over slow moving contract negotiations with the airline. (Photo by Adelyn Baxter/KTOO)

From Fairbanks to San Diego, Alaska Airlines workers picketed at airports across the West Coast Monday.

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They’re upset over slow moving contract negotiations.

In Juneau, clerical workers, ramp staff and customer service agents represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers sported neon green t-shirts that said “Show us the money!” as they waved signs on the plaza across from the airport’s drop off area.

John Walters works on the ramp for Alaska Airlines at Juneau International Airport. He and about 20 other union employees and supporters demonstrated for most of the day.

“Job security is number one. Our job is not guaranteed, we live contract to contract, so job security is huge,” Walters said. “Pension, raise — our starting pay is $12/hr. We don’t get paid much to do this job.”

According to union representatives, Juneau’s demonstration was one of 10 in cities across the West Coast. About 20 workers picketed in Anchorage and a handful in Fairbanks.

All of the participants took part before or after work or on their day off.

President of Local 2202 Kaleb Rosa said they first approached the airline in August 2017 about opening up contract negotiations.

“It’s going, but it’s going slowly. We’re doing it as clean as possible,” Rosa said. “We love the place we work, we love our work group. We love our coworkers and the company we work for.”

Rosa explained that the union cannot strike without congressional approval due to the Railway Labor Act. Instead, they’re hoping to put public pressure on Alaska Airlines.

“We’ll take all the support we can get,” Rosa said. “But if Alaska doesn’t start moving this process quicker, then we’re going to have to start engaging the public on a daily basis.”

In a statement, Alaska Airlines confirmed it is in the process of negotiating two labor agreements with the union.

The airline said it does not talk about specifics during union negotiations, but it supports paying employees fair, competitive wages and offering quality benefits.