By Bill Parry
Several hundred low-wage airport workers rallied with elected officials, religious and community leaders at LaGuardia Airport Monday demanding a $15 minimum wage and union rights. Coordinated actions took place at 10 other airports across the country in other cities, including Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia, with all marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Speakers including City Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), both sons of 32BJ SEUI members, who offered their support.
State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) said, “There’s a homeless shelter in my district where 48 percent of the adults have full-time jobs but they can’t afford rent or put food on their table. We must raise the minimum wage.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed, penning an op-ed piece published Monday calling for higher pay for the nearly 8,000 airport workers at LaGuardia and Kennedy Airport.
“In 2015, New York led the fight for fair pay,” Cuomo wrote. “We raised the hourly wage for thousands of fast-food workers to $15 per hour and increased base pay for state workers to $15 an hour by 2021. Yet for all the progress we’ve made, we have not achieved important wage increases for airport worker, preventing thousands of hardworking people from taking home a fair and honest day’s pay.”
Before leading a march across the 94th Street Bridge, where he was arrested with 24 others by Port Authority Police in front of Terminal B, 32BJ SEUI President Hector Figueroa thanked Cuomo for his support.
“He called on the Port Authority to get us to $10.10 per hour and now he has to keep going,” Figueroa said. “Now we call on the Port Authority to just do it. We believe they have the legal right to do this by executive action. Other airports have done it in Philadelphia, Miami and San Francisco and now it is time to do it here in New York City.”
The Port Authority of New Jersey and New York had no comment.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr