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Port Authority Rejects Airport Wage Parity

Wages for contractors at Newark Airport will stay at $10.10 an hour. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
Wages for contractors at Newark Airport will stay at $10.10 an hour. (Fibonacci Blue/Flickr)
September 26, 2016

NEW YORK – Workers at LaGuardia and JFK International Airports will be getting raises soon, but their co-workers at Newark Airport aren't so lucky.

Like other workers in New York, those at the New York City airports will start seeing their pay go up later this year. But Rob Hill, vice president of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), said the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey last week voted down a resolution to raise the wages paid by contractors at all three airports evenly.

"This would have allowed the 10,000 or so New Jersey airport workers to go up to the New York minimum wage, which will go up to $11 in December and on to $15 in 2018,” Hill said.

Minimum wage in New Jersey is $10.10 per hour. In August, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a minimum wage increase similar to the measure in New York, saying it would make doing business in the Garden State "nearly unaffordable."

Airport workers around the country have been winning wage increases. In Boston, for example, workers will soon be earning $12 per hour and in Los Angeles, wages are already over $15, plus benefits.

But Hill said the workers at Newark are still waiting for the Port Authority to keep old promises.

"The Port Authority had promised two years ago, when they moved wages to $10.10, that they were going to come out with a comprehensive plan that provided enhanced wages and benefits,” Hill said. "They've refused to do that."

According to Hill, the Port Authority has historically had a policy of keeping wages even for all workers under direct contracts at the three airports. But now, he said, those doing the same job for the same companies on different sides of the river eventually could see an almost $5 difference in hourly wages.

"Effectively, Chairman Degnan and the other board members voted to keep New Jersey workers in poverty where their New York counterparts are going to come out of it,” Hill said.

All but one of the Port Authority's New Jersey board members voted against the resolution.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY