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Fort Lauderdale Airport Workers See First Steps To Improved Wages

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Rachel Morello / WLRN

About 75 workers and their supporters gathered outside the Broward County Commission building Tuesday to protest their current wages.

The board approved a framework for discussions with airlines and subcontractors about a voluntary wage increase for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport workers. The commission also approved supports to establish break rooms in terminals, and to provide a hotline for anonymous employee complaints.

Rashad Grant, one of more than 1,500 people employed by airport contractors, said some of his coworkers make $4.72 an hour. That's $3 less than the state minimum wage.

"That's what you call poverty wages. We can't live off of that," Grant said. "We're seeking the living wage. We provide excellent customer service at that airport day in and day out, so why don't we get the justice that we deserve?"

More than 1,000 airport workers make minimum wage or less because they also receive tips.

Eric Brakken is the Florida Director for 32BJ, a union that has been organizing airport workers. He says the commission’s actions were a step in the right direction.

"With their proposals to have labor peace and to have worker retention if a contractor changes, that's important to making jobs better at the airport and ensuring that this airport continues to run smoothly and efficiently," Brakken said.