Airport employees plan to protest at IAH over compensation ahead of busy holiday travel

Here's what we know about the planned protest

HOUSTON – Several airport workers are planning to protest over compensation ahead of holiday travel.

On Tuesday, TSA and Houston airport officials advised customers to expect a busy Thanksgiving holiday travel season.

“We’re just asking everybody to plan ahead and prepare now. Just to give you an idea, we expect over 1.9 million passengers to fly through both Bush and Hobby airports (for the Thanksgiving holiday),” said Augusto Bernal, Public Information Officer for Houston Airports.

Meanwhile, Kabbah Mansaray said he makes $12 an hour with no sick pay while working as a cart driver for Unifi, the contracted company that mainly services United Airlines at Bush airport. He said he is planning to be part of a very different discussion.

“I think that the pay doesn’t match what we do because we do a lot. So, we deserve to get more pay,” Mansaray said.

Wednesday, he and others, like wheelchair attendants, baggage handlers and cabin cleaners who work for companies contracted by airlines, are planning to protest over what’s considered to be inadequate compensation and resources needed to carry out their jobs.

“I drive them (travelers) from one place to another and I also push from the jetway sometimes when I drop them off at the gate if we don’t have somebody else that can do the pre-board,” Mansaray said.

The workers say they want a minimum of $15 an hour and reasonable health care.

Service Employees International Union or SEIU Texas president, Elsa Caballero, said the airlines which hire contractors based on the lowest bid can afford to negotiate fairer contracts since receiving tens of billions of dollars in federal relief funding.

“That’s public money, money that we pay. We pay taxes so that the airlines get this money. What have they done with this money?” Caballero said. “Workers, in general, are very tired of being taken for granted.”

Tuesday, a United Airlines official told KPRC 2 that the responsibility to compensate the workers falls on the contracted companies that hire them.

We reached out to Unifi for comment but have not heard back.

The protest is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m. outside of Bush Intercontinental Airport.

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