People are sometimes surprised when the two of us support a common cause.
While we come from different backgrounds and political perspectives, we share the belief that every working Angeleno should have access to a decent wage. We believe hard-working families deserve living wages on which they can raise their families, and that is why we were pleased when United Airlines recently agreed to abide by the city of Los Angeles' living wage ordinance. Their Los Angeles-based subcontracted security screeners, baggage handlers and other service employees will now start at $7.39 an hour plus benefits or $8.64 an hour without benefits. For many people, this will mean the difference between keeping afloat and getting ahead.
When the city can improve the quality of life for one Los Angeles family, we improve it for all families in Los Angeles. We elevate our city into one in which its citizens are proud and confident to be working, living and raising families. Working Angelenos should be able to earn a living wage and receive decent medical coverage. They should be able to spend time with their children instead of working a second job. They should be able to build savings accounts, not debt, while they provide necessities for their households.
By abiding by the living wage ordinance for subcontracted workers who perform the vital function of passenger pre-board screening, United Airlines has taken a leadership role toward underscoring the importance of safety for the millions of travelers who journey through LAX yearly. Given the importance of the job, we urge other airlines to follow suit.
The nation's largest airlines earn between $385 million and $1 billion annually. Those are impressive earnings. And in Los Angeles their fees for the rental of premium real estate at LAX are minuscule. Recently, the industry won a lawsuit against the city, with the courts deciding that the airlines will have to pay only the historic $1,400 per acre per year fee instead of the current market value rate of $15,000 per acre annually. While this was an unfortunate decision for Los Angeles and its taxpayers, we hope that this windfall for the airlines will mean that they will now recognize their workers' contributions to their bottom line. Paying them competitive wages not only makes business sense, it makes moral sense.
Los Angeles is one of the transportation industry's major world hubs, and Angelenos who work at LAX play a critical role in the airlines' financial success. United recognizes this and did the right thing in deciding to compensate their subcontracted workers accordingly. We hope the airline industry will agree and follow United's lead.