Airport Workers and Supporters Hold MLK Day Protest Against Low Wages and Poor Work Conditions
On Monday, airport employees and contracted passenger service workers gathered in Queens on 94th Street and Ditmars Blvd. Bridge near LaGuardia Airport to commemorate the life and spirit of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with an afternoon protest against low wages and poor work conditions. The workers were joined by representatives of 32BJ SEIU, the NYC CLC, La Fuente, UnitedNY, and elected officials like Councilmembers Inez Dickens, Daneek Miller, Antonio Reynoso, and Congressman Charles Rangel.
According to the workers, airlines are making record profits and the airports, run by the Port Authority, are seeing record number of passengers—111.6 million in 2013, beating the 2007 figure by more than 1.5 million. Airport passenger service workers, meanwhile, are underpaid and underappreciated. They are employed by private contractors like Airway Cleaners/Alstate Maintenance, PrimeFlight, AirServ and Aviation Safeguard.
In December, contracted passenger service workers from LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark International Airports presented the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airports, with petitions signed by more than 2,000 workers demanding MLK Day 2014 as a paid holiday. The workers noted that the Port Authority’s acceptance of the request would have served as the first step in addressing larger concerns about poverty wages and inadequate benefits.
The airlines have repeatedly refused to correct the situation.