February 24, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Port Authority commissioners got an earful from airport workers at last week’s board meeting. Cassandra Flock of Newark, NJ told them they better get their act together and make sure that Newark airport workers get a raise like their New York counterparts. Video
Last month, Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, ordered airlines at John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia Airports to increase workers’ wages by $1 an hour and then another bump to $10.10 an hour. President Obama announced in his State of the Union speech in January that America needs a wage.
Flock pulled no punches, first directing her stern talking to commissioner Anthony J. Sartor, who she said promised changes at the Port Authority at a previous meeting.
“You said at that meeting that is was no longer business as usual. [But] you’re doing everything the same way. I can’t tell. It’s the same old business,” said Flock.
Flock then questioned what are the criteria to be a commissioner on the Port Authority.
“You gotta be old, you gotta be white, you can’t be black. Maybe a woman because you have only one woman sitting here,” Flock said.
She then turned to Port Authority Chairman David Samson, who apologized at the meeting to travelers stuck in the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September. She expressed anger that Newark airport workers haven’t gotten the wage increase.
“How does the New York side willing to give their workers the increase that the President talked about, [but] our Governor has the nerve to say he’s thinking about it? Are you serious?” Flock said.
Newark airport workers benefited from a $1 an hour wage increase when New Jersey voters voted for a minimum wage hike in November. Still, Flock dared Samson to walk in the shoes of mostly poor, minority airport workers.
“Why don’t you go trade places with them?”
The commissioners didn’t respond to Flock or to two other airport workers—Prince Jackson, a JFK Airport worker, and Hattie Greenhow, a 15-year concessionary, UNITE HERE! Local 100 union worker at Newark Airport.
After the meeting, Port Authority Executive Director Deborah Gramiccioni, an appointee of Gov. Chris Christie, said the state isn’t necessarily opposed to a minimum wage hike but that it requires discussion.
“This is a big policy issue and big policy issues should be brought before the board for discussion.”
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