November 13, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
Queens, NY—Airport and fast food workers, politicos and union leaders gathered at LaGuardia Airport to condemn subcontractors paying low wages to workers who clean and safeguard the region’s airports and commercial jetliners. Airport workers such as Shareeka Elliott and Daniel Scott say they have to rely on government assistance to help supplement their pay in order to survive.
There was a time when airport jobs used to be good jobs. According to a recent report, Course Correction: Reversing Wage Erosion to Restore Good Jobs at American Airports, produced by the University of California, Berkeley the airline industry has been consistently outsourcing different job functions to a myriad of subcontractors. The effect has been a deterioration of wages and even safety and security because high turnover among low-wage employees contributes to a small experienced staff.
The union that represents building workers, 32BJ SEIU, is helping the airport workers in their campaign to better working conditions. Hector Figueroa, 32BJ’s president, noted that the airline industry in New York is very profitable and therefore the major airlines should have no difficulty paying higher wages.
“They are in a better position to pay better wages. We are the ones who use the airport and pay the taxes so they can operate in our cities. The least they can do is return some of that wealth back to the very people who made that wealth possible,” said Figueroa.
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