Newswise — Dr. Liesl Orenic, professor of history at Dominican University, is the author of "On the Ground: Labor Struggle in the American Airline Industry" and treasurer for the Labor and Working-Class History Association. A former baggage handler, she is an expert on contractual airline workers.
Reports indicate that airline caterers plan to strike at 18 airports across the country, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, one of the busiest travel days of the year.
She believes the momentum around labor issues has expanded.
"Previously, organized labor in the aviation industry was mainly confined to direct airline employees. But that has changed as outsourcing has surged. Collectively, these workers have the power to disrupt the air travel industry, just as air traffic controllers did before the White House announced a deal to end the government shutdown earlier this year," she said.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 96% of baggage handlers and sky caps were employed last year through contractors.
"The smallest mishap or interruption in any kind of services has a ripple effect. If a plane doesn't get catered, it can interrupt all the people getting on that plane--and all the flights that follow it."
Orenic holds a PhD in social history from Carnegie Mellon University.
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