Tlaib protests with airline workers at Detroit Metro Airport

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Romulus — U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib joined airline catering workers who work for Delta Airlines on Friday to protest "poverty wages and unaffordable healthcare." 

Tlaib locked arms with eight airline workers who sat blocking traffic at Detroit Metropolitan Airport while nearly 100 union members with Unite Here rallied outside Delta's McNamara Terminal departures. The protesters held signs reading "Delta: one job should be enough."

Rep. Rashida Tlaib locks arms with eight airline workers at Detroit Metro protesting Delta for better wages on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.

Refusing to move, eight airline workers were arrested by airport officers.

Tlaib said she was proud to stand with the workers "who are willing to put their bodies on the line" and rode with the workers in the van as officers transported them for processing, but was not arrested with others, union officials said.

"The airline catering workers are desperate for a better quality of life and put their bodies on the line in their fight against the exorbitant corporate greed by the airlines denying them of their right to a living wage and good healthcare," Tlaib said in a statement.

"Working people in the kitchens at DTW and airports across the U.S. have been hurting for too long, but today we are saying no more. Today, we are calling on Delta Air Lines to say that if it wants to really prove that it cares about the working families more than it does its bottom line, than it will commit to ending poverty in the airline catering industry so one job is enough for all airline workers."

The rally was held as Delta Air Lines distributed $1.6 billion in profit-sharing Friday to its employees.

Unite Here represents nearly 20,000 airline workers, 7,000 in Metro Detroit.

Delta did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Protests continued in other key Delta hubs in Minneapolis and Seattle as well as United and American hubs in Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. 

Unite Here Local 24 President Nia Winston, who was among those arrested at Metro Airport, said the airline catering industry workers help to make DTW one of the best airports in the country, but can't afford to take their children to the doctor.

"Until airlines like Delta recognize all the workers whose labor contribute to its record-profits, until airline catering workers get what they deserve in a fair contract, we will keep coming out at the airport and anywhere else Delta will hear us," Winston said.