NEWARK, NJ – As part of his ongoing efforts to fight for fair wages for our region’s airport workers, today U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) urged the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to raise the hourly age for workers at airports under its jurisdiction to $15. In a letter to Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton, Sen Booker pointed out that not only are airport workers not currently receiving a living wage, but workers at Newark Liberty International Airport are not even achieving parity with workers performing similar work at New York airports.
“As the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey takes steps to increase investment in our region’s airports, I believe it also has a responsibility to demonstrate the same commitment on behalf of the employees that service those airports,” Sen. Booker wrote. “I write to request that the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey update its Minimum Wage Policy for Non-Trade Labor Service Contracts at LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport to increase the hourly wage to $15.”
Sen. Booker has been long committed to advocating for fair pay and benefits for airport workers. In May, Sen. Booker joined SEIU members and local officials for a rally at Newark Airport in support of raising the minimum wage. Prior to that rally, Sen. Booker and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent letters to the CEOs at ten major airlines urging them to improve the pay and benefits of their subcontractor workforce.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
September 5, 2017
Chairman Kevin J. O’Toole and Mr. Rick Cotton
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
4 World Trade Center
150 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10007
Dear Chairman O’Toole and Mr. Cotton:
As the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey takes steps to increase investment in our region’s airports, I believe it also has a responsibility to demonstrate the same commitment on behalf of the employees that service those airports. I write to request that the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey update its Minimum Wage Policy for Non-Trade Labor Service Contracts at LaGuardia Airport (LGA), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to increase the hourly wage to $15. As you know S3226/A-4870, the New Jersey Safe Transportation Jobs & Fair Employment Rules Act (STAFER Act), recently passed overwhelmingly out of both houses of the New Jersey Legislature before being vetoed by the Governor.
As the bi-state agency overseeing these airport operations, the Port Authority is empowered to provide fair wages to all frontline airport workers. Airport workers at EWR earn an hourly minimum wage of just $10.20. Not only is $10.20 not a living wage, it fails to even achieve parity with publicly-contracted workers in other airports under your jurisdiction. I strongly urge the esteemed Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to take immediate action to ensure that these workers, who provide critical services to the airline industry, are paid in an equitable manner.
We all benefit from a fairly compensated workforce. Living wages and meaningful benefits can prevent employee turnover and ensure higher quality services for passengers. It also bolsters our national security. The men and women that handle baggage, clean cabins, maintain facilities, and interface with thousands of travelers each day at some of our nation’s busiest airports act as an additional layer of protection to safeguard our nation’s traveling public.
Other major airports, including in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland, have taken important steps to guarantee living wages and health benefits for airport workers. Most recently in Philadelphia, American Airlines announced an agreement to provide a path forward for contract negotiations between the labor unions and airport subcontractors, ending years of worker unrest at the Philadelphia International Airport. The Port Authority now has an opportunity to be a national leader on this issue and enhance the well-being of the working men and women of the region.
I greatly appreciate your time and attention to this matter and look forward to your response. I hope to continue to engage on this issue in open dialogue with the Port Authority, and I value your participation in that discussion.