Jumaane Williams hosts PTO roundtable with airport workers

Stephon Johnson | 4/18/2019, 10:21 a.m.
Airport workers from LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports met with New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams to ...

Airport workers from LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports met with New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams to discuss paid time off legislation.

The legislation, recently announced by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and introduced by Williams as a member of the New York City Council, would give workers at least 10 paid days off that they could use for childcare, vacation, etc.

“It’s clear to me that too often, Americans are overworked and undervalued,” stated Williams. “The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that doesn’t guarantee some level of paid leave. That’s inexcusable, and it’s time to change. It’s time to give working people a break—it’s time to give them time off. Thank you to 32BJ for your support of this effort and for engaging in a dialogue on how to get it done for working people.”

In an email from de Blasio’s Fairness PAC (founded to support progressive candidates and politicians across the country), the organization said, “Whether it’s making Pre-K free for all four-year-olds, enacting paid sick leave for over 500,000 workers, or expanding parental leave, we’re proving that an economy that’s dedicated to fairness, opportunity, and workers’ rights can thrive.”

Williams expressed his support of the legislation to airport workers and said he’s committed to paid time off legislation. During the discussion, airport workers shared stories of missed parent teacher meetings, inability to support ailing parents, or working through exhaustion so as to not miss work.

“We don’t have paid vacation time at my job,” stated Christopher McClain, a customer service agent for Hallmark Aviation Services at JFK Airport. “If I want to take time off to be with my family, my paycheck will be short for the week. I hate that I have to choose between spending time with my family and having enough money to pay my bills. That’s why I’m going to do everything I can to help our elected leaders get this law passed.”

“For us, being able to have paid time off means so much, even if just to get a little bit of rest,” continued Lavelle Lindsey, a baggage handler for Eulen America at JFK Airport, in a statement. “We support the public advocate’s efforts and we will be here to do anything he needs us to do to help make this bill a law in New York City.”

32BJ SEIU Vice President and Political Director Alison Hirsh said that the workers’ push to get legislation passed has kept politicians on their toes.

“These are impossible decisions that the hardworking men and women of New York should never be forced to make,” stated Hirsh. “With this paid personal time legislation New York won’t only make national history, we will also strengthen our communities and local families who need paid days off to ensure we can support each other when needed.”