BY JORDAN GIBBONS
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released its new minimum wage policy on Friday for all 12,000 employees under non-trade labor service contracts at all Port Authority facilities and it will be implemented first at LaGuardia, JFK International and Newark Liberty airports.
As of July 31, wages for workers in covered services will be increased by $1 per hour for all workers earning $9 per hour or less. Effective Feb. 1, 2015, wages will be increased to $10.10 per hour. Beginning on Feb. 1, 2016, annual pay increases will be tied to the consumer prices index for urban wage earners.
The Port Authority voted in April to require the salary hikes but did not release a timeline for implementation at the time.
All contractors who fall under this policy must provide its employees a paid holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Port Authority is also forming a plan for the development of enhanced wages and benefits, including health benefits for covered workers, and will release the plan no later than Sept. 30, 2014. The existing policy for wages and benefits for certain workers, which provides benchmarks for the inclusion of affordable health care, is being looked at as a reference for the plan.
Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU, the local union that represents airport workers, acknowledged the policy as a step in the right direction.
“The Port Authority’s move to codify the pay increases proposed earlier this year is a significant step forward on the path that airport workers have been fighting for; those increases will have a real impact in their lives,” Figueroa said in a statement. “We will continue to push that the Port’s plan for enhanced wages and benefits, including healthcare, put these workers on a path to parity with Port-contracted workers who do the same kind of work.”
The new guidelines have not come without a fight, as airport workers have rallied throughout the last year to push the Port Authority to make the changes and ensure that contractors comply with the policy.
In May, hundreds of workers from JFK and LaGuardia marched into the Kew Gardens headquarters of Aviation Safeguard, a contractor who hires airline workers, to deliver a letter demanding better pay.
Before the Port Authority vote in April, hundreds of airport passenger service workers rallied from JFK to LaGuardia, a 10-mile walk, to protest for higher wages and work benefits. That was a few weeks after protestors were arrested for civil disobedience on the 94th Street Bridge across from LaGuardia on Martin Luther King Day.
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718)357-7400 Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.