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United food workers protest at IAH.

Image: Unite Here

If you're flying out of IAH today, you might stumble upon somewhat of a surprise. More than 50 United Airlines food and concessions workers, flight attendants and community leaders are expected to protest at George Bush Intercontinental Airport today to raise awareness for the low wages many of the carrier's employees are making. With signs ready to go, reading "United doesn't care about Houston," the protestors hope to point out the sheer hypocrisy of United receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidies from the city in recent years, but still not caring enough about its local food-service employees—95 percent of whom are immigrants or minorities—to offer them a livable wage. 

Some of these workers earn just $9.99 an hour up to $11 an hour after decades on the job, causing them them to live in poverty. According to labor union UniteHere! an estimated 2,000 United catering workers in Houston (among other cities) filed for a union election in January, prompting United to run an aggressive anti-union campaign and seeking to deny the workers’ right to vote for a union. While 18 states began 2018 with higher minimum wages based on the rising cost of living or legislation, Texas was not among them, but remains at the federally mandated $7.25 an hour wage. 

Something that could help: The city is negotiating a new agreement with United for Terminal E and the International Terminal Project and could require the carrier to pay a fair wage as well.

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