SEIU: Union to strike at JFK–Potential to snarl air traffic

Delta’s subcontracted airport security officers, baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants voted to strike at LaGuardia and JFK airports in what will be the largest airport worker strike in recent history.

Starting Wednesday July 22, 10:00 p.m. at  JFK Airport, Terminal 7 arrivals.   Airport workers subcontracted out to Delta will put up a picket line and launch their strike.
On Wednesday July 22 at 10 p.m. airport workers for Delta’s subcontractor Aviation Safeguards at both JFK and LaGuardia will launch a strike to protest their employer’s repeated, illegal threats. The announcement came after meetings Monday where the workers unanimously authorized the strike and security officers gave Aviation Safeguards nearly a week’s notice in the interest of public safety.

This will be the first time airport security officers will go on strike during airport workers’ three-year national campaign for higher wages, benefits, union representation and respect on the job. With more than 1,000 airport workers planning to go on strike, it will be the largest action airport workers have taken so far.

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. For Aviation Safeguards airport workers, their demands for better treatment has been met with illegal repression.

When security officers, baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants working for Delta’s subcontractor Aviation Safeguards began organizing for higher wages and benefits, their employer began to illegally threaten them and violate their rights. Aviation Safeguards has illegally stopped workers from wearing buttons, misrepresented their rights as airport employees and threatened to fire them for striking. This has happened repeatedly, despite multiple settlement agreements with the National Labor Relations Board in which Aviation Safeguards promised to obey the law. But Aviation broke its word again and again. Now Aviation Safeguards security officers are voting to strike in protest of these illegal violations.

Elected officials support airport workers’ strike: A group of city council members including Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Councilman Rory Lancman, Councilman Mathieu Eugene and Councilman Jimmy VanBramer announced their support for airport workers

“At the New York City Council, we stand up for social and economic justice. That’s why we stand with our security officers, baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants at JFK and La Guardia airports. They are a vital part of our workforce and they deserve respect, recognition, and fair pay,” NY City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“This subcontractor has repeatedly violated these workers’ rights to organize and fight for a living wage for themselves and their families. I stand here today in support of airport security officers and all workers who seek to hold their employers accountable to the law by taking peaceful action in defense of hard-won rights shared by all,” Council Member Margaret Chin.

“JFK Airport is the largest employer in the Southeast Queens community, so it is imperative that all airlines and subcontractors treat their employees with dignity under the law and provide respectable wages and benefits,” said Council Member Donovan Richards(D-Laurelton). “All employees should have the opportunity to earn a wage that allows them to climb out of poverty and provide for themselves and their family.”

“All hard-working employees in our city deserve to make a living wage. Our airport workers have incredibly demanding jobs and they are entitled to fair compensation. It is their right to fight for a $15 minimum wage and we should not allow them to be illegally harassed or intimidated for simply asking for a reasonable salary,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “It is an honor to stand with them as our city fights for a $15 minimum wage for all of our hard workers. We won’t back down until there is justice.”

“I applaud the courage of the security officers, baggage handlers and wheel chair attendants in striking to demand fair wages and decent benefits without illegal intimidation,” said Council Member Rory I. Lancman. “These workers toil away behind the scenes to make our travel experience seamless, and they deserve an honest living wage for their hard work.”

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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