Friday, 31 January 2014

NY: higher wages for outsourced airport workers

Airlines using airports controlled by the Port Authority of NY and NJ can no longer hide between the fact that they have contracted out cleaning, security, handling and other services. The Port Authority announced in a letter that it expects them to make a plan with SEIU 32BJ that must lead to higher wages, better health benefits and a paid holiday on Martin Luther King Day. Patrick Foye of the Port Authority explains:
Our airports are major employers and economic engines for the entire region. I strongly believe that improved wages and benefits will reduce turnover and job training costs while significantly improving customer service, making this a win-win for the airlines, millions of their passengers, the Port Authority and the thousands of hard-working employees at our airports.
To prevent any misunderstandings as to the nature of his request, he adds: “The Port Authority is prepared to use every tool at its disposal to achieve these goals”.

The intervention of the Port Authority is no isolated event. Recently, President Obama announced that companies contracted by the government will also have to pay higher wages. In the Netherlands, the government decided to stop contracting out cleaning and security services and give workers a contract with the government, so as to guarantee decent labour conditions.

Workers at New York’s airports have been campaigning along with their union SEIU 32BJ for better labour conditions for some time. Recently, 32 people, including local politicians, were arrested at an action at La Guardia. The intervention of the Port Authority constitutes an important victory.

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