Baggage Handlers, Security Workers Set To Strike At New York Airports, Could Disrupt Travel

The fight for higher wages could disrupt travel for Delta Air Lines and United Airlines passengers flying in and out of New York’s two largest airports starting Wednesday night, as a union representing some security workers, baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants approved a strike.

Reuters reports that service workers union 32BJ SEIU – which represents workers employed by Aviation Safeguards – gave notice on Tuesday that about 1,000 workers at John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports would begin strikes at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

The union said in a statement that the strike was approved after Aviation Safeguards, a subcontractor for Delta and at least one United terminal at the New York airports, threatened to fire workers for organizing for higher wages and benefits.

“While the airlines have been making record profits and the Port Authority has approved billions of dollars to modernize LaGuardia airport, the airport workers who make these profits possible are struggling to survive,” the union said. “Their demands for better treatment are met with illegal repression.”

The union contends that Aviation Safeguards – a subsidiary of Command Security Corp. – has, on several occasions, illegally stopped workers from wearing buttons, misrepresented their rights as airport employees and threatened to fire them for striking.

Command Security Corp denied the union’s accusations.

A spokesperson for Delta tells Reuters that the airline would be “taking measures to ensure that our more than 35,000 customers booked through LaGuardia on Thursday are not affected.”

United said it has contingency plans in place should the strike move forward.

The Port Authority, which operates both JFK and LaGuardia, tells Reuters that it has taken “significant steps in recent years to encourage wage and benefit increases for employees of airline contractors at its airports.”

Some LaGuardia, JFK airport workers to strike on Wednesday [Reuters]

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