A union seeking to represent thousands of employees at New York’s two major airports says workers will go on strike Wednesday unless they are allowed to organize.
The union does not officially represent the workers but is seeking to organize about 48,000 subcontractors that work in airport security, baggage handling, and wheelchair attendance.
The union claims that about 1,000 workers have agreed to join them in their strike.
Officials with Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union are urging workers to strike as a means to force employers to allow the union to gain control over the workers they have been trying to organize to no avail for some time.
SEIU organizers also insist that Delta subcontractor Aviation Safeguards has employed “strong-arm tactics” to encourage employees to reject the union’s attempt to organize. The union claims that the company has prevented union representatives from posting notices and wearing buttons to advertise union meetings.
Union local president Hector Figueroa says that the company’s actions have been outrageous. “That should not be happening in our airports, that should not be happening in our country,” he said in a statement.
The few workers that the SEIU has placed before the media claim that they want the union to help them increase wages from $10.10 per hour to $15.
“Where is it acceptable, in these United States of America, in a billion-dollar industry, for a worker to give a company 20 years of service and never have a raise?” Donna Hampton, a security worker at JFK, said at a Tuesday press conference organized by the SEIU.
But, company CEO Craig Coy told Reuters that the strike is not widespread and won’t affect business operations.
“We have plans in place with our customers and the Port Authority, and we don’t anticipate any significant airport operations disruptions,” he told Reuters by phone.
Despite what the union claims, Roy said he expected only about 250 or so workers to join the SEIU on the picket line.
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