NYC Airport Workers to See Significant Pay Increase While Others Protest for More

Minimum wage in the U.S. has been a controversial topic for quite some time now. Quite a few states have been more than willing to pay their hard-working employees a salary they can actually survive on, but others have continued to abide by the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Although the state of New York has a minimum wage of $10.40, airport workers around New York City are soon going to be seeing a pretty hefty increase in pay. Sources at Fox News say within the next five years, they will have the highest minimum wage of any public agency.

On Thursday, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Board of Commissioners approved a proposal that will increase the airport workers’ minimum wage to a livable $19 per hour by 2023. In total, workers will see a $6 increase from their current $13 per hour wage.

New Jersey will be seeing the highest increase, making an additional $8.45 per hour over the course of the next five years.

The three airports affected—LaGaurdia, JFK and Newark Liberty International—are some of the busiest in the country and served a combined total of about 65 million passengers last year.

More than 40,000 employees will benefit, including baggage handlers, security officers, wheelchair agents and terminal and airplane cleaners.

Every year, New York City airports see a turnover rate of about 30 percent, which is a pretty high number in comparison to other airports around the country, which can be as low at 6 percent. With the approved proposal, Port Authority is hopeful to see that number significantly decrease.

Port Authority Vice Chairman Jeffrey Lynford recently said in a statement, “There’s no doubt that this new policy will greatly benefit the traveling public. Better wages and benefits will result in significantly reduced staff turnover, allowing for better trained and observant employees who can assist in our overall security efforts as well as in emergency situations. It also will improve workplace morale and productivity.”

Coincidence or not, the approval comes around the same time airport workers around the world are staging a protest for a more livable wage.

On October 2, employees from more than 40 airports in 13 different countries—including janitors, baggage handlers, security officers and more—are expected to be involved in the protest. Workers are hoping to win higher wages, affordable health care and overall be able to provide a better life for their families.

Travel and Leisure reported that according to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), U.S. airport employees are paid so little that nearly 30% are forced to rely on public assistance. In Thailand, some airport workers only see a small $10 a day.

Mary Kay Henry, President of the SEIU, stated, “In city after city all across the country, airport workers have won raises—doubling their income in some cities—and the right to form a union. They’ve done it by coming together to elect leaders who work for all of us, no matter our skin color or zip code, and calling on those elected officials to hold greedy corporations accountable.”

“We won’t stop until all working people—white, black and brown—can join together in unions for the power in numbers to win higher wages, affordable health care and a better life for their families.”

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