Port Authority urged to raise wages

Airline food service workers waged their “nickel a ticket” campaign for affordable health care and are seeking wages that allow full time employees to escape poverty.

Dozens of airline catering workers from Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports rallied Thursday, February 15, at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey board meeting to call for wage raises for all airport workers. Their demand was echoed in a letter signed by more than 60 New York and New Jersey state and local lawmakers.

While United, American and Delta earned $9 billion in total profit in 2017, thousands of airport workers and their families continue to get left behind, some earning just $9.75 per hour.

Airline catering workers at Newark, LaGuardia and JFK are asking on the Port Authority to pass a minimum wage policy that would raise the wage-floor and raise living standards for tens of thousands of workers.

The workers who came talked about the difficult conditions they face on the job, how the lack of a raise in minimum wage has hurt them and their families and insisted that a new wage policy include all airport workers, including airline catering workers.

“I’ve worked in airline catering at Newark Airport for twelve years, but I still earn just a little over $12 per hour,” said Lea Bagnon, who works for United Airlines Catering Operations and is leading a union organizing campaign at Newark Airport. “We deserve higher wages for the work that we do – just like the rest of the workers at the airport.”

“I’ve been a driver for Gate Gourmet at LaGuardia Airport for 26 years,” said Franz Vieux. “As drivers charged with moving food through the airport to feed passengers on flights, we have to adhere to all the airport’s security measures. The work is stressful, and hard. We have sacrificed for our companies to help keep them afloat. After 9/11, we all agreed to a wage freeze that lasted four and a half years. Because the hourly wage is low, some workers have to work two shifts to earn what they need to survive. All airport workers need an increase in their wages.” 

There are 4,700 airline catering workers at the three airports whose work is critical to their safety and success. In an area of the country with a high cost of living, a higher wage floor will allow airport workers to finally provide a decent stand of living for their families.

The Port Authority has a chance to pass a wage policy at next month’s board meeting, which will take place at 2 Montgomery Street, in Jersey City, on March 22.

Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country.

The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity.

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