October 1, 2014
By Neal Tepel
New York, NY – Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has settled with Alstate Maintenance LLC, a contractor operating at Terminal One of John F. Kennedy International Airport, for paying nearly 40 skycaps at an hourly rate far below minimum wage. The $925,000 settlement consists of about $625,000 in restitution and another $300,000 in damages, all of which will be distributed to workers.
In addition to the restitution and damages, Alstate has agreed to a number of reforms moving forward to ensure that its workers are properly compensated.
“I am committed to combating wage theft wherever and whenever we see it,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I will fight the tough fights to ensure there is one set of rules for everyone, and that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules gets a fair shake. Airlines and the companies that operate our airports should make certain that the contractors they hire act responsibly.”
Skycaps play a critical role in helping airport operations run smoothly. Whether it’s curbside check-in for departing passengers or helping arriving passengers get their luggage from baggage carousels to their cars.
"I was proud to lend my support to John F. Kennedy Airport Terminal One workers in their efforts to organize, and I am equally proud today to join Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in announcing this successful settlement with Alstate Maintenance,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. “Many airport employees continue to be grossly underpaid, and it is particularly egregious that this contractor paid skycaps below the legal minimum wage."
The investigation began after several workers notified the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, which has been organizing airport workers, that they were not earning at least a minimum wage and the union contacted the Attorney General’s Office. Between 2008 and 2014, Alstate paid the skycaps as little as $3.90 per hour , which fell far below the minimum wage.
“We are glad to see this group of airport workers getting justice, and thank Attorney General Schneiderman and his team for their dedication and hard work on this case and others, said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU. We know that too many other airport workers continue to be exploited by contractors who feel they are able to get away with cheating and short-changing their employees. That’s why we’ve been working with the Port Authority for a longer-term, permanent solution in which employers are bound by a contract and workers are protected by a union of their choice.”