ST. PAUL, Minn. – One day after 13 people were arrested at a peaceful demonstration protesting the poor treatment of travelers with disabilities at the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) International Airport, Transportation Committee Chairs Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis) and Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) committed to investigate the issue and work to improve conditions at the airport.
The demonstration drew attention to poor conditions facing passengers with disabilities and elderly travelers, and highlighted poor wages and a lack of resources provided to the workers sub-contracted by Delta Airlines to provide wheelchair and electric cart service. Among those arrested in an act of peaceful civil disobedience were disability rights advocates, community members and the President of SEIU Local 26.
“We are deeply concerned with what we are learning about the conditions for passengers with disabilities and the workers that serve them at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport,” said Rep. Hornstein and Sen. Dibble in a joint statement. “We are actively looking into these deficiencies and will work to ensure our airport is safe, efficient and hospitable for everyone.”
Sen. Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis), whose district includes the airport, joined the call to improve conditions for sub-contracted Delta workers providing wheelchair, electric cart and other services at the MSP International Airport.
“In light of these reports and seeing the action taken by disability rights advocates, workers and allies yesterday at the airport, it is clear this issue cannot be ignored. I strongly support these passengers and workers and I intend to work with them to find a solution,” stated Torres Ray. “I hope the Metropolitan Airports Commission and Delta take these concerns seriously. I am ready to support my colleagues as we move through legislative channels to make sure our airport is truly a world-class facility for everyone.”
Until recently, according to Delta’s own internal audits of its ten largest airports around the country, MSP was consistently ranked ninth or tenth in the quality of its service for passengers with disabilities, based on the level of disability-related complaints. Last fall, Delta hired a new contractor to improve services and announced that the contractor would provide a “one-for-one push,” meaning one attendant for each passenger requiring assistance. However, workers report that this has not happened.
Last week, a report titled “Able, But Not Willing” was released and highlighted Delta’s continued failure to provide adequate service to travelers with disabilities. After yesterday’s protest, which included over 100 community members in addition to the 13 arrested, the advocates pledged to continue pushing until the Metropolitan Airports Commission and Delta make the MSP International Airport an airport that works for everyone.