There are many different ways for organizations and activist groups to promote their ideas and opinions. Some groups and individuals flyer, others make speeches, and a few even host large rallies to make sure their voice is heard.
Local activist coalition Working Washington has taken a new approach to spreading its ideas and beliefs just in time for the season of giving: handing out self-produced coloring books and crayons to young travelers at Sea-Tac.
"Traveling at this time of year can be difficult, especially for families," Working Washington communications specialist Thea Levkovitz says. "This is another way to educate as well as to continue the holiday spirit."
In an attempt to bring to light the various number of non-unionized airport workers and their working conditions, Working Washington and off-duty airport workers are handing out an activity book created by the organization to all children passing through Sea-Tac's Skybridge 6 today and tomorrow. Entitled 'Who Makes Our Airport Work?,' the 12-page book depicts a variety of airport workers, including baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, wheelchair agents and others, completing their daily tasks.
Recently Working Washington, which according to its website is "a coalition of individuals, neighborhood associations, immigrant groups, civil rights organizations, people of faith, and labor united for good jobs and a fair economy," has been working with these non-unionized workers of various companies contracted by Sea-Tac and airlines in an attempt to help them earn better wages and employee benefits as well as improved working conditions.
"Every airport job should be a good job. People who work full time should be able to provide for their families," Levkovitz explains, while saying that currently many workers can't do this - with almost 2,800 contracted Sea-Tac employers earning at or below poverty wages.
This movement for improved wages and working conditions has hit rapid fire in recent months. This past October Working Washington led a march of about 50 Sea-Tac workers against Airline Service International Group (ASIG), a fueling contractor that works with almost 75 percent of airlines at Sea-Tac, in response to the suspension of fueler Alex Popescu. Popescu received his suspension soon after making a complaint about an airport truck whose drive shaft fell to the tarmac on a ramp where planes were being fueled.
And last week Working Washington assisted a group of 50 plus Sea-Tac workers file complaints against ASIG along with contractors Delta Global Services, BAGS Inc., and AirServ Corporation for various alleged health and safety violations, including exposure to hazardous chemicals and a lack of training in cleaning up feces and bodily fluids. Currently these claims are being investigated by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.
The coloring book reflects the organization's goals and beliefs in several areas. For example, on top of 'A Note for Parents,' at the end of the book that describes Sea-Tac as a "first class airport," with workers that "work hard, and often under unsafe conditions," page 8 contains an illustration of taxi drivers and a maze the text reads:
"Uh oh! These taxi drivers have to work such long hours that they may not get to see their kids before bedtime. Help Mr. Sing and Mr. Johnson get to Seattle and back home safely!"
And on page 10, near the end of the book, text accompanying a picture of all the different workers standing together reads:
"When these workers stand together they can get the training, safety gear and good pay they deserve. They sure look happier now."
For Sea-Tac, the presence of Working Washington around the airport is becoming a regular occurrence. According to the Port of Seattle's Aviation Media Officer Perry Cooper, Working Washington has been increasing its presence quite a bit in the past year and a half, including holding a press conference in the Arrivals Hall of Sea-Tac just last week. Cooper also notes that Working Washington has continued to follow the proper permitting process to complete its activities at the airport, and members were in the proper place this morning when distribution of the coloring books began.
While it is unclear what impact the coloring books will have on Working Washington's movement, so far, according to the group, kids have been truly enjoying the free gift on their way out of town.
"The kids are so excited for a coloring book and crayons. It's so cool. I'm just so happy." Levkovitz says.
A copy of the coloring book can be seen on the next page...