Press Release for October 23, 2018

Contact: Diana Hussein [email protected], 313-460-3119

Airport workers advance campaign to raise DIA minimum wage to $15

DIA workers deliver over 17,000 signatures to place $15 minimum wage measure on May 2019 citywide ballot on the same day that 2,700 United Airlines catering workers win union election

DENVER – Today, a coalition led by low-wage workers at Denver International Airport (DIA) delivered over 17,000 signatures to the Denver Elections Division to qualify the Denver Airport Minimum Wage Initiative for the May 2019 citywide ballot. The measure would raise the minimum wage at DIA to $15 by 2021. This coincided with the news that 2,700 United Airlines catering workers, including 550 from Denver, won a union election and will soon begin negotiating a contract with the airline.

“This is a historic day for Denver’s airport workers, and, by extension, the Denver community,” said Kevin Abels, Denver President of UNITE HERE Local 23. “On the same day that Denver’s labor market sees its largest union election victory in years, thousands of DIA workers can celebrate the advancement of the campaign to place the Denver Airport Minimum Wage Initiative on the May 2019 Denver citywide ballot that will change the lives of thousands of families.”

Needing 4,726 valid signatures to qualify, the over 17,000 signatures submitted to the Denver Elections Division likely secures a spot for the measure to be put up to the voters to decide on in May 2019’s citywide ballot. Currently, over 6,000 Denver airport workers make less than $15 an hour, 33 percent of whom earn minimum wage, according to a 2017 report by Economic Roundtable.

This is a particularly historic moment for United catering employees at DIA, some of whom make less than $12 an hour despite having two decades on the job.

“It was a hard fight just to get a chance to vote in a union election,” said Teresita Felix, a United Airlines catering worker at DIA. “But to also be fighting for Denver residents to get a chance to vote on our $15 for DIA ballot measure and see both victories happen on the same day makes it all the more exciting for the future of families like mine that’ve had to live 20 to a household with housing costs becoming more and more unaffordable.”

Should the measure pass, Denver would join a list of over fifteen peer airports across the U.S. who’ve adopted minimum wages to enhance employment stability, quality of service, safety and security at their airports. Most recently, airport workers in San Francisco and New York-area airports also celebrated wage increases.

$15 for DIA has received the endorsement of a number of elected officials, in addition to unions and community organizations, including the Denver Area Labor Federation, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Together Colorado, Colorado Jobs with Justice, IAM Local Lodge 1886, AFA-CWA Council 9, Denver DSA, AFSCME Colorado, UFCW Local 7, 9to5 Colorado, Colorado Fiscal Institute, United for a New Economy, and American Friends Service Committee.

For more information on the ballot measure, including a full list of supporters, visit


UNITE HERE is a union with 300,000 members in North America in the food service, hotel and gaming industries. It represents 45,000 employees in the airport concessions and airline catering industries at over 75 airports in the U.S. and Canada, including over 1,000 workers at Denver International Airport.