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SEIU

Another Fight for $15 Victory

A much needed win at New York's largest airports keep the campaign alive.

Brian Young's picture
Dec 16, 2016

Airport workers at New York City’s three largest airports, JFK, LaGuardia and Newark have won recognition for their union as well as a raise to $15 an hour.

The 8,000 subcontracted workers mark one of the largest victories for the Fight for $15 movement since it began four years ago.  The deal covers employees of nearly 2 dozen subcontractors who do business with the airports and include job titles such as baggage handlers, security officers, wheelchair attendants, skycaps, and cleaners. 

Unlike some of the other organizing campaigns that the Fight for $15 has done, this campaign first focused on the government agency that oversees the airports, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This bi-state agency agreed to raise the wage at the New York Airports to $15 an hour, but the plan was vetoed for Newark workers by Governor Chris Christie.  By organizing the raise first, the New York subcontractors were able to meet the $15 demand without worrying about being undercut in price.  Once the wage increase was forced by the state, the workers began pushing the subcontractors for union recognition.  As the holidays approached, they used the busy holiday season as a bargaining chip, threatening to strike just days before Christmas.

This organizing victory marks one of the biggest wins for the Fight for $15 to date.  While they have got low-wage workers raises in Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, and Fort Lauderdale, this is the biggest group to join organize into a union.  Over the last 4+ years, many have questioned whether the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) should continue to fund the Fight for $15 since it was not leading to large increases in membership. Efforts like this one are an important victory towards keeping the campaign moving forward.  The New York Area airports now join Seattle and Minneapolis as airports that have recently recognized subcontractor unions thanks to the Fight for $15 and organized labors financial support and expertise.

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