March 20, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Jersey City, NJ—The Port Authority Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to develop a policy to raise wage and benefits standards for all Port Authority facilities in the region. The board’s chair, David Samson, excused himself from the public meeting saying he recused himself previously from any consideration or discussion of airport wages. Video
Patrick Foye, the Port Authority’s executive director, wrote a letter in January to airlines flying in and out of the region’s airports to immediately bump up airport workers wages by $1 an hour, followed by a phase-in to $10.10 an hour and ultimately implementing a plan to raise standards even higher.
During a meeting of the Operations Committee at Port Authority offices in Jersey City, the commissioners voted to task Foye to “develop, research and outline the necessary steps to develop a policy that mandates wage increases and benefits for workers at all Port Authority facilities,” including non-aviation facilities.
While airport workers at JFK and LaGuardia Airports are now getting an extra dollar an hour, Newark airport workers are not.
Most of the workers at the three airports trying to win higher wages are being supported by 32BJ SEIU, the property services union. But concessions workers represented by UNITE HERE! also testified before the board on Wednesday, asking that they benefit from any policy that improves standards.
New Jersey Assemblyman Gordon Johnson said to the board:
“I want to make sure that you ensure that every employee of every contracted vendor is included because we want to ensure that they all have a decent, livable wage,” said Johnson.
Board Commissioner Raymond Pocino spoke about the items the Operations Committee voted on. He clarified that the committee didn’t vote on a $10.10 increase that some public speakers had supposed.
“I want to make it clear that we voted on moving forward in terms of doing our due diligence before we get to [$10.10] in making sure we do it the way it should be done according to our fiduciary responsibility,” said Pocino.
After the hearing, Pat Foye took questions from reporters. He was asked weather Port Authority employees at non-aviation facilities, such as the Port Authority Bus Terminal on Manhattan’s west side, would see wage increases.
“That employee is likely already covered by a labor harmony policy adopted by the board several years ago. My belief right now is that those employees are covered, but if that’s not the case we will look into it,” said Foye.
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