WASHINGTON, DC – As airline executives testify on Capitol Hill today in the House Committee on Transportation, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent letters to the CEOs at ten major airlines urging them to improve the pay and benefits of their subcontractor workforce.

In an effort to cut costs and boost profits, the airline industry has increasingly outsourced its on-the-ground service workers, subcontracting positions like baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, and wheelchair attendants. While these workers are required to abide by many of the standards of the airline they subcontract for, they often receive minimal pay and benefits and lack basic workplace protections.

In letters to the CEOs of American, Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest, and United Airlines, Senators Booker and Brown wrote: “While companies insist on strict adherence to company policy by its subcontracted workforce as it relates to employees’ activities and procedures, these same requirements too rarely extend to worker protection measures. Shielded from industry labor standards and oversight, wages in these positions have fallen dramatically…”

Further, the subcontracted workers at many airports, including Newark Liberty International and Cleveland Hopkins International, often go without basic workplace protections, the Senators added.

The Senators asked the airline executives to provide more information on their subcontracted workforce, including the number of subcontractors and their pay, benefits, and working conditions. 

Today’s letter comes while airline executives from Alaska, American, Southwest, and United testify in front of the House Committee on Transportation about customer service issues across the industry.

Yesterday, Senator Booker held a press conference at Newark Liberty Airport where he called for greater airline accountability and consumer protections for travelers. And last week, Booker joined nine other Senators in cosponsoring the TICKETS (Transparency, Improvements and Compensation to Keep Every Ticketholder Safe) Act, which would prohibit airlines from bumping passengers who have already boarded and would lift the cap on the amount of compensation airlines have to pay to bumped passengers.

Click here for the letters to the ten airline CEOs.