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32BJ praises NY assembly for STAFER Act vote, pushes Senate to say ‘yes’

Stephon Johnson | 6/29/2017, 9:37 a.m.
32BJ SEIU wants the New York State Senate to follow the State Assembly’s lead and pass the STAFER act.
New York State Capitol Wikipedia

32BJ SEIU wants the New York State Senate to follow the State Assembly’s lead and pass the STAFER act.

Wednesday the New York State Senate opened a special session, and the union wants Republicans (and some Democrats) to stop holding up the passage of the STAFER Act.

The Safe Transportation Jobs and Fair Employment Rules Act proposed a $17.95 minimum wage for private or and/or subcontracted airport workers such as baggage handlers, security officers, cleaners, food and retail workers and passenger service agents. The bill’s passage would affect workers at John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports, Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The increase in minimum wage for these workers would also include benefits such as health insurance.

“When transportation workers have higher minimum wage standards with meaningful benefits, our airports, bus and train stations will be safer for us all,” said New York State Assemblyman Marcos Crespo in a statement. “With this bill we match the investment in our transportation infrastructure with the investment in the human capital that makes it run.”

“This bill is an essential investment in our safety and passenger-service standards at New York’s most important airports, bus and train stations,” added 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa in a statement. “As the state continues to fund renovation projects, upgrading the treatment and standards for transportation workers will better protect our city and support local economies that can thrive off good jobs.”

In an emailed release, a 32BJ representative pointed to an incident at LaGuardia Airport Monday in which a subcontracted airport worker was hit by a tarmac truck. The incident, according to the union, highlighted the need for health insurance benefits for similar employees.

As of press time, New York State Senators Jeff Klein and John Flanagan hadn’t brought the STAFER act to a vote on the floor. State Senate Democratic Leader Andrew Stewart-Cousins said that this delay put low-wage airport workers at a disadvantage when a significant amount of state senators approve of the legislation.

“Ensuring that all subcontracted transportation workers receive fair pay and a living wage is not only the right thing to do, it is also the wise thing to do,” said Cousins in a statement. “These hardworking employees ensure that our major New York City-area airports and terminals function properly, stay safe and continue to serve as essential transit centers for our city, state and region.”