Queens Borough President presents proclamation in support of JFK and LaGuardia airport service workers

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Queens Borough President Donovan Richards presents a proclamation in support of JFK and LaGuardia airport service workers who are advocating for better pay and benefits.
Photo by Ramy Mahmoud

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined airport service workers from JFK and LaGuardia on Thursday, June 13, in a show of support. The gathering focused on a proclamation advocating for better wages, healthcare benefits, and paid time off (PTO) from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The proclamation highlighted the financial struggles faced by these workers, who are members of the SEIU 32BJ union. It emphasized the importance of recognizing their contributions by providing them with family-sustaining wages, adequate and affordable health benefits, and meaningful paid time off.

Candis Tall, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU (right), shakes hands with an airport service worker. Photo by Ramy Mahmoud.

Richards fully supported workers advocating for higher wages. “We will continue to fight and support your efforts of getting to $25 [per hour]. We have a $20 billion investment in the airports, which will help your work conditions,” he said. 

During the event, Candis Tall, vice president of 32BJ SEIU, shared that airport essential workers, including security officers, baggage handlers, wheelchair agents, cargo handlers, and cabin cleaners, are key in keeping the travel hubs running. Tall added that in early June, the borough president joined SEIU and 1,000 airport workers at a rally at JFK, which called on the Port Authority to provide better wages and benefits. “As the Queens Borough President saw at that rally, our members are fired up and ready to fight and win. But it means so much to our members and the union that we have elected officials like Queens Borough President Richards backing us up. With this proclamation, you have recognized that airport service workers form the backbone of JFK, LGA, and EWR.” Tall said. 

JFK passenger assistant Sophia Brewster shares her story at the event. Photo by Ramy Mahmoud

Other attendees, including JFK passenger assistant Sophia Brewster, spoke at the event.  Brewster said she takes pride in her work, knowing that airport service workers such as herself are the reason JFK runs smoothly. Brewster added that now it is time for her and her coworkers to get paid what they deserve. “ Right now, we make $19 per hour. Personally, trying to survive off of $19/hr has been a complete struggle. I’m a mom in Brooklyn, and I have to cover rent, utilities, phone bills, groceries, school supplies, and so much more,” she said.

BP Richards speaks to members of the union. Photo by Ramy Mahmoud
BP Richards speaks to members of the union. Photo by Ramy Mahmoud