About 700 airport workers who are responsible for curbside and terminal assistance for all the major airlines at the three airports went on strike Tuesday evening.
The striking staff include hundreds of wheelchair attendants, skycaps, customer service agents, shuttle drivers, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners and terminal cleaners. The staff all walked off due to a dispute with their employer PrimeFlight Inc, which subcontracts their services to various airlines.
The employees allege unfair labor practices by PrimeFlight Inc.
The strike started at 9pm in Newark (terminal C) on Tuesday and will continue through to Wednesday where it will move on to LaGuardia which will be setting up a picket line at Terminal B and will continue on to Thursday which then JFK will set up a picket at Terminal 5.
Organizers said that they’ll continue the rolling job actions over the next three days around all three airports.
The strike didn’t just happen, it came after months of unsuccessful attempts to bargain a union contract with their employers. Through 32BJ Service Employees International Union, over 8,000 New York region airport staff have launched successful campaigns which led to negotiating better wages, benefits and working conditions.
Refusal To Acknowledge
PrimeFlight Inc. refused to acknowledge and recognize the 32BJ union representative when they tried to file a National Labor Relations Board complaint.
The NLRB found through the evidence and investigation that PrimeFlight Inc. had violated worker’s rights and that they were legally obligated to negotiate job standards. The employees had created packages that include wages, scheduling, seniority, workloads, health & safety and much more, all ready to bring to the bargaining table. The union said it took a federal ruling to get PrimeFlight to the table and the talks still led nowhere.
It’s still unclear how the strike will affect the airports and flight traffic. The strike may extend longer than the originally planned three days. The union reminds press that the PrimeFlight workers, who mostly serve United, American and JetBlue Airlines are trained and have security clearances to sensitive areas in the airport, deserving better job packages.