Why I came to Amsterdam

The most important part of my trip to Amsterdam is to form connections with airport workers from all over the world and let our voices be heard.

By: Osman Salaam, JFK International Airport

By: Osman Salaam, JFK International Airport

To make my job better

I started working as a Security Agent for Global Security at JFK about a year ago. I secure aircraft, ramps, and baggage rooms. You have to have sharp eyes out there. 

I was surprised how vibrant the airport is. You meet a lot of interesting people. But I was also surprised how low the wages are and that we don’t have full-time hours, paid days off, or benefits. Some weeks I work 25 hours and other weeks I work 40.

People don’t stay at this job too long. 

I’ve learned that you can always ask for more out of your job. I want my job to be better. I’m the first line of defense, but I’m only paid $13 an hour. If the wages were better, I’d be able to put a little more money aside to pay for college.

To connect with others

The most important part of my trip to Amsterdam is to form connections with airport workers from all over the world and let our voices be heard. I’m hearing how little some airport workers are paid, especially in Thailand where they are paid only $10 a day. Here in New York, we have a lot of support and our pay is rising up to $15 an hour. When we connect with other airport workers who are struggling under the same greedy companies, we can win a living wage everywhere and we can strengthen our unions.

We will win because there are a lot of us and we all have a common goal.

To fight greed

Airlines are making all that money and we’re making so little. I know they can pay for it. We’re out here watching their planes and helping their passengers, we deserve a cut too. Without us, there would be almost no airport operations.  

To take on Global Security everywhere they are

At JFK, we delivered petitions to Global Security urging them to address wage and scheduling issues and to provide us with proper safety equipment and uniforms. We’ve called out alleged pregnancy discrimination and wage theft.There was even a class action lawsuit for not paying employees for all the hours they worked.

Global Security is an irresponsible contractor and they are everywhere. JFK’s international terminal hired Global Security to provide security in Terminal 4. That terminal is owned by Schiphol in Amsterdam, where workers are also pushing for better pay and working conditions and more full-time jobs. We will take them on wherever they are.

To see the world

I am so excited to be here and meet new people. I’m learning that the Dutch love their bikes! I tasted frites and they were good.

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