Passenger service workers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) who are calling for increased pay and health benefits and improved job standards have received the support of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Workers represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 1877 went on strike at LAX late last month but returned to work the following day after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa brokered a three-week “cooling off period.”

The union, which represents 2,500 LAX service workers, called for the strike after contract negotiations continued to fail with the employers, who are contracted by airlines operating at the airport. The subcontractors service airlines such as American, United and Southwest and perform the bulk of security, janitorial and passenger service work at LAX.

Under the agreement brokered by the mayor, the striking workers could return to work without retaliation while negotiations resume.

In response to the passenger service workers’ action, Obama, who recently received his party’s nomination for President, issued a statement September 4th in support of the California airport employees.

“I stand with the airline service workers who temporarily went on strike at Los Angeles International Airport last week,” said the Illinois senator. “The demands they’re fighting for aren’t unreasonable — access to healthcare, adequate training, proper equipment, wages that can support a family — they’re what America’s workers deserve.

“By supporting the security personnel who don’t have the staffing or training to ensure passenger safety or deal with high turnover rates, the crewmembers in dangerous conditions who can’t afford healthcare, and the service workers who after more than a decade on the job still don’t earn a living wage that makes ends meet, we all benefit.

“For the airline industry, meeting these demands is inextricably tied to passenger safety, quality service, and the health of our economy. Our airlines have a responsibility to their workers and passengers to come back to the bargaining table so that union members can go back to work.”

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