Airport (148473)

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board announced a settlement with an airline contractor who tried to scare workers who organized.

PrimeFlight Aviation Services, a Nashville-based airline contractor, agreed to a settlement that includes financial compensation for Newark Airport workers who were threatened and intimidated and lost wages after they spoke out against labor practices and went on strike. Organized by 32BJ, three cabin workers were suspended after they reported back to work after November’s one-day strike. One worker, Saterrah Sumter, was fired after the strike as well.

All of the workers intimidated by PrimeFlight will receive back pay with interest. For Sumter, that back pay will total close to $18,000.

“These hardworking Newark Airport workers have rights that should be recognized and respected,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ vice president and NJ State director, in a statement. “It’s unconscionable what they endured—one cabin cleaner was fired and several others were suspended after exercising their First Amendment right to assemble.”

Brown’s statement continued, “This settlement will not totally right this wrong, but it does provide financial compensation for the workers. And it sends a clear message to employers that they could pay a price if they deny workers’ their rights.”

Sumter also said that she was questioned about 32BJ, and the company tried to discourage her from getting involved with the labor effort by offering her more work hours. As for the three airport workers who were suspended, they were allegedly told, “You took a day from us, so we’re taking a day from you.”

A week before Thanksgiving, airport workers in cities such as Newark, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia attended the first ever national airport workers rally in favor of better wages, benefits, working conditions and the right to organize. Workers continued the pressure during the weekend leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The rallies brought out elected officials such as New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and New York State Assembly Member Keith Wright.

The airport workers came together under the banner of Airport Workers United, a movement advocating for a $15 minimum wage, something that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently vetoed.