A bill to boost wages for more than 2,000 contracted workers at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and Baltimore Penn Station became law Tuesday.
Union and nonunion workers who earn hourly wages as low as $8.50 per hour plus tips will see their earnings grow to $17 per hour over the next five years under the Secure Maryland Wage Act.
The workers, who are predominantly Black and immigrants, will start making $13.50 per hour Jan. 1. Wages will increase each year to up to $16 per hour, plus a $1-per-hour supplement for benefits or an additional $1 per hour in wages, for a combined $17 per hour in 2026.
The workers include janitors, non-TSA security officers, cabin cleaners, wheelchair attendants, passenger service agents, ramp workers, baggage handlers, ticket and line agents, and others.
The goal of the bill, sponsored by State Sen. Antonio Hayes and Delegate Kriselda Valderrama, was to retain and attract experienced and better-trained workers at transportation facilities with heightened security. Similar raises have taken effect at Los Angeles International Airport, Oakland Airport, the Port of Oakland, Newark Liberty International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
In the region, Dulles and National airports adopted wage policies as a way to improve safety and security.
Workers backed by property service workers union 32BJ SEIU have lobbied for the law for three years. The union represents more than 20,000 service workers in the Baltimore/Washington region.
The bill also eliminates tipped wages for wheelchair agents, who have said they often receive no tips.
Doran Brown, a contracted wheelchair agent at BWI, said the law puts him and his co-workers on a path to a living wage.
“This law is a blessing to me and my family,” Brown said in a statement.