Ramp agents working for Swissport voted to become members of Teamsters Local 120. The 114 ramp agents, who are responsible for handling baggage, join Swissport aircraft fuelers that are already represented by the union at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Local 120 represents more than 11,500 members in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Not surprisingly, wages, health care, turnover and safety were the main issues workers cited as their reasons for joining. Improvement on these issues might be improved by negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.
The Teamsters claim that despite the desire to join the union, the organizing committee faced an uphill battle: management hung up an anti-Teamster poster in the break room and held anti-union meetings. The restricted nature of the airport tarmac – for security and anti-terrorist reasons – made it difficult for organizers to access the workplace.
Aircraft fuelers played a key role in persuading their coworkers to join. Local 120 obtained a permit to access the airport, and many volunteer organizers from US Foods reached out to the ramp agents to tell them what to expect from management after they had filed for an election.
“Our members from US Foods experienced a campaign where they faced many of the same challenges in terms of an anti-union campaign, and they ended up with a positive outcome,” said Lovinsky Ricard, a Local 120 organizer. “That’s what we want for our newest members.”