MSP Airport approves $15 minimum wage for thousands of workers

    Photo courtesy of MSP Airport.

    The Metropolitan Airports Commission unanimously approved a $15 an hour minimum wage for workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Monday after years of lobbying by workers and the Service Employees International Union.

    Thousands of workers — mostly immigrants and people of color — will see their wages increase over the next two years, with the first pay hike coming on Jan. 1 to $13.25. The current minimum wage at the airport is $11 an hour.

    “This has been a hard year. COVID has changed our world and taken so many people. George Floyd was murdered not far from here. We all are dealing with the uncertainty of what comes next. But today I’m glad to say we have some good news,” said Glen Brown, a wheelchair agent at MSP and member of SEIU Local 26, in a statement.

    Workers will also see their pay continue to rise even after it reaches $15 an hour in July 2022; the Metropolitan Airports Commission approved annual cost-of-living adjustments.

    The airline industry has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with ridership plummeting 95% at MSP Airport in April and only slightly recovering since.

    The Commission delayed a vote on raising the minimum wage in April, reasoning the economic burden for airport businesses would be too great amid falling revenues and an uncertain future. Approving the wage increase now still keeps the airport on track to reach a $15 an hour minimum wage the same time Minneapolis does.

    “We draw from the same pool of workers as Minneapolis and St. Paul, both of which have taken action to move toward a $15 an hour minimum wage,” Patrick Hogan, a spokesman for the Commission, wrote in a statement. “By being competitive, we can continue to provide great service to travelers”

    Max Nesterak
    Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.