December 21, 2012
Security officers working out of two busy JFK terminals have agreed to shelve a strike that was set to go into effect days before the Christmas rush, but talks between workers and contractors to discuss issues affecting the flying public have yet to be established.
In authorizing a strike for December 20, employees of Air Serv and Global Elite, cited shoddy training and poor equipment – both of which could potentially jeopardize the safety of passengers. However, plans for the strike were scrapped after the Port Authority implored both sides to come to the table and avoid major disruptions during the busies traveling time of the year.
"The employees at Air Serv and Global Elite provide a valuable service at our airports and to the traveling public, and a strike at this time would be disruptive to millions of travelers and exact a toll on our economy," Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said in a statement.
Despite their concerns about poor working conditions and less-than-desirable safety procedures, security officers nevertheless complied with Foye's request.
"The Port Authority asked us to call off our strike and, more importantly, asked the contractors to meet with us,” Air Serv security officer Prince Jackson said earlier this week. “Both Air Serv and Global Elite have agreed to meet so tonight we are calling off the strike for now and look forward to discussing our concerns with the contractors.”
But security officers are still waiting, as a firm date for when talks between the contractors and security agents might begin must still be worked out.
SEIU 32BJ is backing the JFK security officers. The organization represents more than 125,000 members across eight states and Washington, D.C. More than half of them are from new York. Vice-President Rob Hill told LaborPress that workers agreed to back on on their plans to strike because Air Serv and Global Elite agreed to sit down at the table.
“SEIU 32BJ is assisting security officers at JFK Airport struggling against attempts by their employers, Air Serv and Global Elite, to silence them as they highlight passenger safety issues as well as thwarting their right to organize a union to improve wage, training and benefit standards," Vice-President Rob Hill said. "The workers have agreed to the Port Authority’s request that they call off the strike they authorized because the employers agreed to discuss these issues. The workers look forward to discussing the issues thoroughly in the coming weeks and reaching solutions that would benefit the traveling public, workers, the city and our region.”
At a rally authorizing the now-aborted strike, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Councilman Tony Avella and other elected officials, criticized security procedures at JFK Airport that allegedly allow novice security agents with virtually no training to safeguard aircraft waiting for their next takeoff.
Jackson assured the public that although JFK security officers have agreed to avert a strike now, they will continue to press for improved working conditioned and enhanced safety practices.
“We ask all of our supporters to continue to stand up for improving airport jobs so that workers like me can have a voice in improving safety and security at JFK,” Jackson said. “Our fight is not over. We will need you to help make sure we get a meaningful resolution with the security contractors that will allow airport workers to best serve the public, our families, and our community.”