Building Trades

Airport Workers Choose Between Food and Rent

December 5, 2013
By Marc Bussanich 

New York, NY—On the second day of New Day New York where low-wage workers are participating in actions and demonstrations around the city, airport workers from JFK who work for American Airlines’ subcontractors walked into the airline’s ticketing office on Lexington Avenue near Grand Central Terminal to drop off petitions asking American Airlines to pressure its subcontractors to stop intimidating workers and pay better wages.  

Alberto Grant Jr. works for Airway Cleaners as a terminal cleaner at JFK’s Terminal 8. He makes less than $8.00 an hour and earns only a weekly salary of about $320 gross pay. He started out at $7.65 and is now making a whopping $7.90 per hour without healthcare and retirement benefits. He dropped off a stack of petitions at the airline’s ticket offices at 360 Lexington Avenue to let the airline know they need to make more money to live.

“We want change, better wages, benefits and respect,” said Grant Jr.

Jeffrey Benjamin works as a baggage handler for Allstate Maintenance a JFK’s Terminal 1. He said because his pay is so low he sometimes doesn’t have enough money to eat because he has to pay his rent, prompting him to go on occasional involuntary diets. He said that the airlines used to pay almost $19 an hour for the same job years ago, which would help him live better.

 “$19 an hour is a reasonable wage to help me make ends meet,” said Benjamin. 

Follow Marc Bussanich on Twitter marc@laborpress.org 

December 5, 2013

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