SEIU: Strike averted at JFK–Delta caves to Union demands

Strike averted as Delta’s subcontracted airport security officers, baggage handlers and wheelchair agree to deal with Aviation Safeguards– NEW YORK (July 22, 2015) – The 1,200 Aviation Safeguards workers who were planning a potentially crippling strike beginning at 10:00 pm Wednesday July 22nd 2015 will report to their posts as usual after the company agreed to a deal with the employees and 32BJ SEIU.

“We are pleased to announce that the voices of 1,200 workers have been heard,” Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ, told reporters at a press conference at the LaGuardia Airport Mariott Hotel. “In response to the concerns raised by Aviation Safeguards employees at LaGuardia and JFK Airports, an agreement has been reached between Aviation Safeguards and 32BJ SEIU.”

“It’s a great surprise. This means that all our bravery and organizing has paid off. Canceling the strike is acceptable with these terms,” said Juan Chapman an Aviation Safeguards security officer who was planning to go on strike. “When you want something you have to fight for it. Don’t wait for help. You can make it all if you believe.”

Under the terms of the signed agreement, Aviation Safeguards will agree to be neutral regarding its employees’ efforts to join 32BJ SEIU and will recognize 32BJ as the employees’ union of choice and agree to bargain a contract, if a majority of employees sign cards authorizing 33BJ to be their union representative through a card check procedure. Organizers believe they have more than enough votes for the union.

Union officials said 32BJ intends to win a Port Authority mandate of living wages of at least $15 dollars an hour and affordable health care for all subcontracted airport workers that includes these mandated wages. The Port Authority has stalled on its plan to enhance these workers’ wages and benefits for months now. Negotiations for a union contract are expected to begin this fall.

Over the last year airport workers have come together with other low wage workers in the Fight for $15. While the airlines have been making record profits and the Port Authority has approved billions of dollars to modernize LaGuardia airport, the airport workers who make these profits possible are struggling to survive.
Meanwhile, a host of elected officials have responded to the news about the signed agreement between Aviation Safeguards and 32BJ SEIU.

“I am pleased that Aviation Safeguard has formally signed an agreement to bargain in good faith with our airport workers,” said New York City Councilman Mathieu Eugene. “However, the fight to guarantee a $15 minimum wage for these very hard working men and women is still not over. We as a city must now call upon the Port Authority to release their better wage and benefits plan to ensure that all airport workers in New York and New Jersey have their incomes raised above the poverty level.”

“The decision by Aviation-Safeguard to agree to bargain with its workers is a great win and a huge step towards ensuring subcontracted workers receive a living wage and all the benefits a full-time employee deserves,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “We must continue to work together to support the goal of lifting up airport employees, so they no longer have to choose between their bills and their next meal.”

“Congratulations to the Aviation and Safeguard employees and 32BJ for standing strong on their demand for decent wages and benefits. Today’s win is a tremendous step forward for the hard working men and women that keep our airports running. All workers deserve quality jobs and we must continue the push for a wage and benefits plan that raises the standards for all airport workers.” Said Councilmember Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.

“This victory is proof that once united, workers can never be defeated in their fight for a living wage and benefits for themselves and their families,” said Councilwoman Margaret Chin Congratulations to Aviation Safeguards employees for holding the line for all New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet. I look forward to Aviation Safeguards honoring their agreement to bargain in good faith so that their employees receive the wages and benefits that will lift them out of poverty.”

“Airport workers organized and won, demonstrating the power of people standing united. I am proud to stand with 32BJ to fight for the right of all New Yorkers to earn a living wage and rights in the workplace,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.
“We congratulate President Hector Figueroa and the members of 32BJ on an extraordinary victory,” said New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. “This fight was about dignity, respect and fairness in the workplace. The outcome is a testament to the power of organized labor standing together and speaking with one voice for the benefit of hardworking men and women. All workers deserve a voice and today’s victory will provide just that.”

*With 145,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.

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