U.S. Senator Cory Booker, NJ Legislative Leaders and 32BJ SEIU Demand Higher Wages for Newark Airport Workers
Assembly Speaker Prieto urges support for the STAFER ACT—a bill that includes better pay and benefits for certain subcontracted airport, rail and ferry workers
Newark Airport—New Jersey’s most powerful elected leaders on the federal and state level joined forces with 32BJ SEIU and dozens of contracted Newark Airport workers today to call for an end to poverty wages at the airport. Leading the legislative powerhouse team was U.S. Senator Cory Booker who recently sent a letter to the top 10 airline executives urging them to raise the pay for subcontracted airport workers and offer them meaningful benefits. Today, he amplified that call to action before dozens of subcontracted Newark Airport workers and vowed to stand with them until their journey for justice is complete. And he expressed his support for a bill that calls for raising the federal minimum wage.
“The minimum wage is failing to provide basic economic security and a reasonable standard of living for millions of workers across the country,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “That’s why I stand in solidarity with workers at Newark Airport and airports across our country in calling for wages that allow workers to support themselves and their families. Improving pay and basic protections for our airport workers is plainly the fair and just thing to do.”
“When airlines put profits first, passengers and workers suffer,” said 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa. “United and other airlines need to invest in human capital—the subcontracted airport workers who service their passengers, clean their planes and help the airlines rake in record profits.”
“I work hard every day cleaning United Airlines planes but I have little to show for it,” said Daquan Allen, a PrimeFlight cabin cleaner at Newark Airport. “Because I earn meager wages, there are times I have to choose between paying the rent or putting food on the table. That’s so stressful. Shouldn’t people who work for a living be able to make a living?”
State and local legislators called for wage parity across the Hudson River. Because New York has a higher state minimum wage, workers at LaGuardia and JFK airports make more money than Newark Airport workers who earn just $10.20 per hour—about $22,000 per year—less than the federal poverty level for a family of four. “A two-tier wage scale undervalues the vital work Newark Airport workers do every day to keep the airport safe, clean and profitable,” said New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney. “We can’t sit back and allow this injustice to continue. That’s why I am proud to stand with my colleagues in the New Jersey legislature who have pledged to right this wrong.”
“When workers don’t make enough to afford the basics, it hurts families and the economy,” said New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto. “We can help thousands of subcontracted Newark Airport workers get on a path out of poverty by supporting the STAFER ACT—a state bill that I am sponsoring that will ensure subcontracted airport, train and ferry workers receive the same wages and benefits as government contracted unarmed security officers.”
“Airline profits are soaring but the baggage handlers, sky caps and other airport workers who helped to generate these profits are making peanuts. That’s wrong,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “Low wages have a devastating impact on Newark Airport workers—the majority of whom are immigrants and people of color who live in Newark. So I will continue to stand by these hardworking men and women in their fight for a better life.”
With 163,000 members in 11 states–including 12,000 in New Jersey–32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.