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Newark Airport workers rally for higher wages and economic justice

By David Hungerford |
February 16, 2014
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Newark Airport workers demand justice.
Newark Airport workers demand justice. (Photo by Dave Sanders)

Newark, NJ - Workers and supporters of SEIU Local 32BJ held a rally at Newark Airport, Feb. 11, to demand pay equity for all airport workers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A spirited crowd turned up in Terminal C to present demands. Workers from JFK and LaGuardia airports came to support Newark workers.

The Port Authority’s mandate covers bus, rail, air and shipping transport in the entire area of New York City and northeastern New Jersey. It is a huge and immensely wealthy agency that employs many thousands of low-income workers. Newark Airport alone employs 4000 – as baggage handlers, skycaps, wheelchair assistants, ticket agents, etc. It falls under the joint administration of the governors of the two states.

Late last year 32BJ negotiated a contract with JFK and LaGuardia airports that raises pay in two steps from $8.00 per hour to $10.10 per hour. No corresponding step has been taken for workers in New Jersey, however. A worker at speaking at the protest got loud cheers saying that they were going to send a letter to New Jersey Governor Christie “in language he likes to talk - you can ignore Newark Airport as long as you want but we’re not going anywhere!”

Many elected officials and candidates turned up to speak. It is the workers who have taken the initiative and taken the lead, it is they who are the news. They have every intention to keep it that way.

The Port Authority management at this point looks to be going in a favorable direction. Still, success would leave the workers with low incomes. The struggle must go on. Anti-labor laws must be repealed. Stronger unions with a class struggle orientation are the way forward.

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