According to CBS Minnesota, some Twin Cities airport employees chose to utilize a hunger strike in order to negotiate higher wages from their employer this Thanksgiving holiday. Employees in various departments were involved in the strike, including luggage handlers, wheelchair agents and airplane cleaners. The strike lasted 24 hours.
The employees hoped to use the strike to gain the attention of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which employs the workers, to have their wages increased to at least $15.00 per hour. CBS reports that the Commission increased airport worker minimum wage to $10.00 per hour and made it mandatory for private companies to provide sick days for airport workers earlier this year. However, the Commission declined to comment on the strike and has not increased wages further.
If the MAC complied with the airport workers’ wishes, they would receive a steep increase in wages over the state minimum wage. The Minnesota minimum wage is currently variable depending on the employer’s and employee’s circumstances. According to the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry, large employers with annual gross sales over $500,000 must pay a minimum wage of $9.00 per hour, while those with fewer than $500,000 in annual gross sales only have to pay employees $7.25 per hour. The same rate applies to employees in training and those who are under the age of 18.
These laws cover both full- and part-time workers no matter how they are paid. Tipped employees are prohibited from using tip money toward this minimum, and instead must receive at least the same minimum wage as other workers depending on their age, training status and the size of the company for which they work. Minnesota law states that employees must be paid for all hours worked.