Just one day after airport workers in SEIU-USWW won $17 an hour at SFO, airport workers in New York and New Jersey won the highest minimum wage in U.S. history--$19 an hour.
The victory is proof: coming together across racial lines to form unions and to elect politicians who put working people--no matter our skin color--ahead of greedy corporations results in broad prosperity that lifts all working families.
More than 9,000 airport workers formed a union with 32BJ-SEIU and fought—at the workplace, in their communities and at the ballot box—to win a $19 wage floor for 40,000 airport workers and their families.
"This will have a huge, positive impact for 40,000 of us and for me personally," says Desmond Grant, a wheelchair assistant at John F. Kennedy airport. "Making $19 an hour means I won't have to constantly look for that second job just so I can make ends meet. It means I'll be able to pay my bills on time."
“For me, personally, this is a giant leap because I am a single mother,” says Mabel Richards, a ticket checker and way rider at LaGuardia Airport. “With the pay raise, I will be able to get better accommodations for me and my children. I will be able to better meet their needs.”
The victory—which would not have been possible without the support of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy—will give New Jersey airport workers an unprecedented $8.45 raise and parity pay with New York airport workers. Before airport workers in New York began uniting seven years ago, they were paid the minimum wage of just $7.25 per hour.
New York airport workers united in 32BJ-SEIU are not stopping here. They now hope to unite their 19,400 fellow subcontracted workers who do not yet have a union so that they too can enjoy the benefits of their union contract, which includes fair seniority rules, scheduling protocols, disciplinary procedures and health and safety guidelines.