Air vacationers are nonetheless reeling from the impacts of a busy and chaotic vacation journey week. From hundreds of canceled Southwest Airways flights to painful delays because of inclement climate–they’re not the one ones left annoyed. Staff like me are hurting together with them. 

A lot of this air journey dysfunction was completely avoidable. The basis of the difficulty is that for too lengthy, main companies have created and exacerbated a disaster for airport employees and vacationers alike whereas raking in document income. Main airways and their contractors have acquired billions of {dollars} in federal funding, and for what? Worse service for passengers and jobs that also typically pay poverty wages with out sufficient protections. And it’s airport service employees, like me, who’ve been unfairly tasked with cleansing up the mess.   

In February of final yr, I began working cleansing cabins for a corporation that cleans American Airways planes at Dallas Fort Price Worldwide Airport. A big a part of my job is to be sure that passengers have a clear and secure cabin for his or her travels. I’m additionally accountable for doing security inspections to make sure the airplane is freed from weapons and something that might pose a hazard to passengers or crew. In different phrases, the protection of everybody on the airplane relies upon partly on the work that I do. With that degree of accountability, one would assume that employees like me could be revered, protected, and paid dwelling wages for the important work that we do. Sadly, that’s removed from the case. 

I’m happy with the work I do and love interacting with passengers–however the excessive turnover and quick staffing are making my job almost unimaginable. Oftentimes, I’ve lower than 10 minutes to wash every airplane, and with fewer individuals obtainable to assist, I’m continually being saddled with extra work, in addition to duties that reach past my position, like serving to with translation for Spanish-speaking passengers and employees. Regardless of the additional work, I make simply $12/hr. I can barely make ends meet, generally even having to skip meals to make sure my ladies have sufficient to eat.

The very fact is, airport service employees throughout the nation aren’t being paid sufficient to assist their households or pay the payments. But revenues proceed to soar for main companies like American Airways, who simply final yr made a document $13.5 billion in revenues off our backs. At airports right here in Dallas and throughout the nation, employees’ wages have been close to the poverty degree for the previous 20 years with no paid time without work, no reasonably priced healthcare, no sick days, inadequate staffing, and no assured employee protections.

Even nonetheless, employees like me proceed to indicate up each single day to maintain our financial system and our world related, and we’ll maintain displaying up this yr by way of journey peaks, vacation chaos, and past to assist guarantee individuals can safely journey. However airways created this downside, and they should repair it.

That’s why I’m standing with employees throughout the nation to demand that Congress take motion to make sure that public cash serves the general public good. The Good Jobs for Good Airports Act, launched final yr within the Senate, would set up a minimal wage and advantages customary for service employees at sure hub airports throughout the nation, which might in flip assist stabilize the workforce, assist decrease turnover, and improve the variety of skilled frontline employees. 

Airports are powered primarily by Black, brown, and immigrant service employees like me, who work onerous to provide our households a greater future. Congress has the facility to radically rework my life by setting wage and advantages requirements and making certain public {dollars} aren’t reinforcing systemic racism. The vacations’ journey woes provide a well timed reminder that we should reinvest on this important workforce that helps maintain our airports secure, clear, and working. 

We need to be handled higher. We deserve jobs that pay us sufficient to outlive, and workplaces that give us a voice on the job and the chance to stay our lives with dignity, whereas caring for our households. 

Over the summer time, I rallied with different employees exterior American Airways Headquarters to name on the CEO to be sure that all airport jobs are good union jobs, with honest wages and advantages.

After months of silence from company executives, I joined members of Congress final month to demand motion to uplift the airport service workforce. To borrow Senator Blumenthal’s phrases, “there may be an unpleasant, darkish fact right here.” And it’s time our elected leaders heed employees’ calls: the workforce that powers our airports deserves a good shot at a great life.

As we begin the brand new yr, what higher time to supply airport service employees a secure job with wages and advantages that might assist us construct a greater future for our households? Congress should take motion now.

Verna Montalvo is a cabin cleaner at Dallas Fort Price Worldwide Airport and member of the Service Staff Worldwide Union (SEIU).

The opinions expressed in commentary items are solely the views of their authors and don’t essentially replicate the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

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