February 11, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Newark, NJ—Less than two weeks after the executive director of the Port Authority, Pat Foye, ordered airlines at the region’s three major airports to raise workers’ wages by $1-an-hour, airport workers in Newark haven’t seen the wage bump. They delivered petitions to United Airlines on Monday asking for the raise. Watch Video of Presser
Kevin Brown, 32BJ’s New Jersey state director, the union organizing airport workers who work as skycaps, baggage handlers and cabin cleaners, said 4,000 workers at Newark still are making only $8.25 an hour while workers at LaGuardia and JFK are expected to see a wage increase by March. Governor Cuomo supports the raises, but Governor Christie doesn’t.
“Governor Christie could certainly tell the airlines that he as well wants the same thing as New York, or the airlines could do it on their own,” said Brown.
On Friday, Delta Air Lines, which employs 6,000 airport workers via subcontractors, agreed to the wage increase at Newark.
Rob Hill, a 32BJ Vice-President, was one of five people to enter United Airlines’ offices to deliver the petition. He said in an interview that United officials were open to listening but didn’t commit to the wage increase.
“They said they’re committed to good jobs, but we explained to them that these were not good jobs, but poverty jobs,” said Hill.
Gertrudes Contreras works as a cabin cleaner for PrimeFlight, a United Airlines contractor, earning an hourly wage of $8.25. She spoke while holding a placard containing a photo of herself and Jeff Smisek, United’s CEO who had a total compensation in 2012 of $9.6 million.
“I have been working with this company for four years without a raise. We do the same kind of work at Newark and deserve the same respect said Contreras.
Newark’s Mayor, Luis A. Quintana, also met with United officials and said if the airlines at LaGuardia and JFK Airports can afford the raise, they can do it at Newark.
“We believe that people should bring home the bacon and eggs same way as the people of New York,” said Quintana.
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