Portland airport retail workers get raises in first union contract with UNITE HERE


UNITE HERE Local 8 reached agreement July 7 on a first-ever union contract for 53 retail workers at the Portland airport. If ratified as expected in the coming weeks, the agreement will provide raises, job protections, improved health insurance, and a pension to employees of World Duty Free. World Duty Free is an Italian multinational that runs retail outlets in over 100 airports worldwide. At Portland International Airport, it runs Kiehl’s, Rich’s News, The Oregonian, and two “The Market” kiosks.

Workers there first demanded union recognition in February 2015, but the company refused initially. In October, it terminated four union supporters, including three members of the union organizing committee. The company called the terminations layoffs, but continued to hire new employees. The workers were reinstated with back pay in January after the National Labor Relations Board determined that the terminations violated federal labor law.

Contract highlights

  • Wages:  20 cents above minimum wage for cashiers, $1.20 for leads, $2.20 for warehouse workers
  • Health insurance: Workers pay one quarter of the premium for insurance that covers 90 percent of costs after a $250/$750 deductible
  • Retirement: Workers vest in the HERE pension plan after five years of service
  • Rights:  No discipline without just cause, a grievance process to challenge wrongful discipline, and seniority rights
  • Other: Two weeks paid vacation a year after five years service; six paid holidays a year; those working on holidays earn 2.5 times normal pay rate


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