Airport Workers Rally for Health Care, New Contract
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
NEW YORK - City and state elected officials will join workers for a rally at John F. Kennedy International Airport today to demand a new contract and health care for 10,000 workers at three major airports. They are baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, cabin cleaners and security officers - essential workers who keep the airports running.
Contracts with most of the 23 companies they work for at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports expired April 1. A new contract must adhere to the Healthy Terminals Act, a recent law passed in New York and New Jersey requiring that airport workers receive an additional $4.54 an hour toward health care.
However, Rob Hill, vice president of SEIU Local 32BJ, the union representing the workers, said contract talks have gone nowhere.
"We need to see progress on this," he said. "We're not going backwards. These workers are going to have health care and things need to move at the table, or we'll have to make decisions from there."
The contractors are demanding concessions from the union, including a lower uniform allowance and eliminating Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday. Vladimir Clairjeune, a union member and passenger service representative at JFK, pointed out that the MLK holiday in particular was something that airport workers fought long and hard to win.
"It's unconscionable to want to take away a holiday like MLK Day, just remembering everything that MLK stood for," he said. "The Healthy Terminals Act would bring racial justice to a predominantly Black and Brown workforce."
Every year, airport workers hold marches in memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to honor his legacy of racial and economic justice.
Hill noted that airlines received $65 billion of government support through the COVID stimulus packages, and the contractors received a portion of those funds.
"Five billion, so far, of that $65 [billion] went to the contractors," he said, "and these workers fought very hard to make sure that some of that money went to cover them."
Contract negotiations are set to resume on Friday.
Disclosure: 32BJ SEIU contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Immigrant Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
get more stories like this via email
DENVER - On Wednesday, leaders from Colorado's 13 community colleges joined a national effort to help more of the state's adults get credentials and …
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Today, a virtual summit hosted by the Las Vegas Mayor's Faith Initiative looks at the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous …
HOUSTON -- Many U.S. communities with bustling downtowns were better prepared to weather economic fallout from the pandemic, thanks to a decades-old …
SEATTLE - Constructive conversations online can seem few and far between. Research from the University of Washington explores how the design of …
Health and Wellness
WATERLOO, Iowa -- Advocates for Iowans with disabilities are sounding the alarm over what they describe as a caregiver crisis, pleading with …
BRAINERD, Minn. - Minnesota boat owners are storing their watercraft for the winter. But that isn't stopping the conversation about responsible water …
BOISE, Idaho - Millions of members around the world, including some Idahoans, are observing International Credit Union Day today. This year marks 73…
INDIANAPOLIS -- As finding a career becomes more difficult for young people, a new report said the U.S. needs a more comprehensive approach to …