Airport concessions workers say living wage ordinance not being enforced: ‘$9.25/hour is not good’

MILWAUKEE -- On Friday, Feb. 9, a group known as the "Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers" announced an employee hiring partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks, and on Monday, Feb. 12, concessions workers at General Mitchell International Airport called for a similar deal.

The concessions workers held signs as they spoke during a news conference Monday morning.

"If it's good enough for the Bucks' arena, then it's good enough for us," said Solo Little John, Fight for $15 leader.

Days after the group known as MASH held a press conference to announce they've put together a workers' contract with the Bucks, airport workers demanded the same thing.

"I can't afford health insurance. I can't, how, I can't even live out there on my job alone. It takes two jobs just to support one household," Kim Ayyash-Roman, concessions worker said.

In 2016, Milwaukee County passed a living wage ordinance that requires county service and concessions workers to make $15/hour by 2021, however, airport concessions workers said they're making less than the minimum requirement for this year, which should be $13.01.

Kim Ayyash-Roman

"I make $9.25 an hour. $9.25 an hour is not good," Ayyash-Roman said.

A Milwaukee County supervisor said it's unacceptable.

"That's why I'm introducing legislation that would create a pathway for a Bucks-style community benefits agreement right here at the airport," Marcelia Nicholson, Milwaukee County supervisor said.

It's unclear why the ordinance hasn't been enforced, or who should be enforcing it. However, what is clear is these workers want more money and a job that can sustain their growth, but the manner in which that comes is still being debated.

Supervisor Nicholson said her measure would give these airport workers the right to join a union. She hopes to have it introduced sometime in March or April.