Airport employees protest fee

Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Teresa Beedle is one of the people working at Juneau International Airport who will park anywhere except the airport's employee parking lot. She is protesting against the airport's new $35 monthly employee parking fee.

"I rebel, because it is ridiculous that people have to pay for parking to work here," said Beedle, a bartender at Glacier Restaurant Lounge & Catering. She makes $9 an hour.

"We believe if enough of us don't pay for parking, maybe the board will stop the policy."

Beedle said she has complained to Juneau Airport Board members when they stop for a drink after their meetings. "But I don't think they are listening," she said.

Pete Carlson, chairman of the airport board finance committee, said the board understands people's frustrations and has been meeting with tenants to improve the policy.

"There were things we didn't think about when we put this in this year's budget. Charging part-time employees $35 a month is not fair," Carlson said. "We have done a very poor PR job. I am very concerned this issue will drag on and on."

To balance the airport's increasing expenses, airport managers decided to impose a $35 employee parking fee, starting July 1. This new fee will generate about $80,000 a year for the airport. But the policy has faced great resistance from employees and some tenants.

"Our employees make $11.66 an hour, less than $30,000 a year. The parking fee can be a burden for them," said Keith Whitehead, who represents the 60 Juneau screeners of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "TSA only pays for employee parking fees that are over $45 a month. Below that, employees have to pay out of their pockets."

The board is considering having airport tenants rent a certain number of spots so employers don't have to pay for each of their workers.

Airport managers sent a letter to all the tenants last week asking them how many spaces they need in summer and in winter. However, only five of them reported back to the board's finance committee for its Tuesday meeting. The biggest tenant, Alaska Airlines, is one of the tenants that haven't done so.

"That will be a major piece of puzzle we will need," Carlson said.

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