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It's a first: Airport worker to serve on metro Airports Commission

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An 11-year employee at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport will break new ground when he begins serving on the Metropolitan Airports Commission this week.

Ibrahim Mohamed, a cart driver who works for Delta sub-contractor AirServ, will be the only current airport employee - and the first Somali-American – to serve on the MAC, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

The other members of the 14-member commission are mainly professionals in the fields of law, business, public affairs and community development.

Gov. Dayton appointed Mohamed to the commission last week. The MAC owns and operates the MSP airport and six smaller general aviation airports in the Twin Cities metro area. The MAC meets monthly to represent the interests of the community in decisions related to the airports.

Mohamed's appointment was hailed by SEIU Local 26, the union which has been trying to organize airport workers and advocating for better wages and working conditions for them.

Mohamed, 35, currently earns the minimum wage of $8 an hour and receives no benefits. He said in a statement released by the union that he wants to make sure airport employees are "part of the conversations" at the MAC.

"When workers have fair pay, decent benefits and a reliable schedule, we are able to provide world-class service to passengers," Mohamed said in the statement. "I will continue to stand together with my fellow co-workers as we fight for dignity and respect for all workers at MSP."

The chairman of the MAC, Daniel Boivin, told the Star Tribune the other commissioners are looking forward to having Mohamed on the board, "to get someone on the worker level and hear what’s going on."

He added that having a Somali-American on the board is also important because the airport employs so many immigrants, according to the Star Tribune.

Gov. Dayton also appointed another new member, real estate agent Dixie Hoard of Thief River Falls (pictured at left). She is a former flight attendant who worked for Northwest Airlines and then Delta for nearly 30 years, said the Star Tribune.

Hoard told the paper she will represent air travelers who live in small towns and rural areas outside of the metro area.

Hoard and Mohamed will attend their first MAC meeting Tuesday. Commission members are paid $50 per meeting.

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