Unions hail Port Authority vote on wage increases

Stephon Johnson | 10/4/2018, 11:11 a.m.
Last week, local airport workers finally got the news that they’d been waiting for all year. The Port Authority of ...
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Last week, local airport workers finally got the news that they’d been waiting for all year.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officially voted in favor of a new resolution raising the minimum wage for workers at LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty international airports. The new resolution includes nearly 5,000 airline catering workers who were left out of the last wage policy.

Opposed by the airline industry, the resolution would increase the base wages of airline catering and airport concessions workers to $19 per hour by 2023. The resolution would affect tens of thousands of workers in New York and New Jersey airports, including security officers, wheelchair agents, baggage handlers and terminal cleaners.

In a joint statement, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Appelbaum, UNITE HERE Local 100 President Bill Granfield and Local 1102 President Alvin Ramnarain said they were happy that all airport employees were included in this resolution.

“The new wage floor of $19 per hour by 2023 shows tens of thousands of workers that they are valued by the people of New York and New Jersey and will allow hard working men and women to finally support themselves and their families with their airport job,” read the statement. “Crucially, we were happy to see that the Port Authority’s resolution covers all airport service workers. This remedies an oversight in the previous policy, passed in 2014, which did not include airline catering workers.”

In May, the PANYNJ planned on voting on a raised wage resolution and delayed the vote. Workers wanted a wage increase by this summer, but the fall looks to have brought good news to them.

Franz Vieux, a RWDSU Local 1102 member who works for Gate Gourmet at LaGuardia Airport, said in a statement, “I have been a driver for the airline catering company Gate Gourmet at La Guardia airport for 26 years. Despite my hard work and dedication, I don’t earn enough to support my family. To make ends meet, I pick up extra shifts and overtime every week, but this means that I work long hours that keep me from being with my family. Raising the minimum wage at the airport to $19/hour will allow me and my co-workers to earn enough to support our families.”

Local airport workers linked up with unions such as RWDSU and 32BJ to campaign for better wages and benefits. In 2016, 32BJ helped many airport workers win union recognition.

New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said that the years of walkouts and negotiations were worth it for airport workers to have this day.

“This is what happens when working men and women stand together and speak with one voice,” stated Cilento. “I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters of RWDSU, UNITE HERE Local 100 and RWDSU Local 1102 who never wavered in their fight for a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work. This is just the beginning.”