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Airport workers want to ask Denver voters for a higher minimum wage

Airport workers are asking you for a raise. They don't work for you, but Denver voters can force their employers to pay them a higher minimum wage.

DENVER — If workers at DIA have their way, you could give them a pay raise with your vote.

A campaign launched Thursday to collect signatures for a Denver citywide ballot measure next May. The proposal would raise the minimum wage for workers at DIA to $15 an hour by 2021. The state minimum wage is $10.20.

Union leaders and community organizations like Unite Here Local 23 support the proposed ballot initiative. A representative said 15 other airports have adopted policies to increase the minimum wage for airport workers.

Amelton Archelus likes the idea. He works in a catering warehouse for United Airlines at DIA. He started working at the airport 19 years ago, shortly after he came to the United States from his native Haiti. He said workers like him deserve more.

“Working at the airport and you got to drive in every day for that long, I can make no more than $14 an hour. It don’t make sense,” Archelus said. “Going to $15 an hour is going to good for me, my family and all my coworkers working at the airport,” he said.

Archelus is married with three kids. He said his wife also works at DIA, but they struggle to make ends meet.

“I have to choose to pay this bill and leave this bill,” Archelus said. “So, it’s not supposed to be like that.”

The Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board came out against the proposed ballot measure on Wednesday. The board argued increasing wages would drive up the price of everything at the airport and would incentivize mechanization. As a result, low-skilled, inexperienced workers may lose their jobs.

Denver International Airport declined comment on the ballot measure because the airport’s CEO is appointed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. A spokesperson for Hancock told us the mayor is ad advocate for increasing minimum wage and their office is "looking carefully at the impacts" this change would have.

9NEWS reached out to United Airlines for comment, too, as Denver is one of the airline’s major hubs.

A spokeswoman said United Airlines follows all federal, state and local laws, “and is committed to treating all of our employees fairly, providing them with competitive compensation and industry-leading benefits and privileges and creating a safe, supportive work environment.”

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