Los Angeles International Airport is the world’s fifth largest airport and a top terrorist target. Yet thousands of airport workers—including many with key security duties—lack health insurance, contributing to high worker turnover rates and an unstable and untrained workforce. This is the case even though airport workers are covered by the city’s Living Wage Ordinance, which was intended to provide health care coverage for this workforce.
The Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance, passed in 1997, was crafted to give employers a financial incentive to provide health benefits. Under the law’s two-tier structure, employers must either pay $11.25 per hour or $10 per hour with a $1.25 contribution to health care for employees. However, the amount of the health care differential has not changed since the ordinance was passed, and it falls far short of the current cost of health care. As a result, thousands of LAX workers and their family members remain without health insurance during a time of severe economic hardship for working families. These conditions contribute to the severe health care crisis in the county and the state.
By updating the health care provision of the living wage law for airport workers, the city can extend coverage to more than 5,000 essential workers and their families, who live in neighborhoods with some of the lowest rates of insurance coverage in the county. The city will also benefit from improvements in security and service quality at LAX, as the retention, training and experience of the workforce increases.