Newark Airport workers to get better pay and benefits under new NJ law
Yvette Stephens lamented Thursday that for the past 16 months, she hasn’t been able to afford health care to cover the injections she needed for her multiple sclerosis – a treatment that can cost up to $ 1,000 a month.
Stephens said she was denied Medicaid because she got a raise and made only $ 2 above the eligibility threshold. And like many of her colleagues at Newark Liberty International Airport, she said, getting health coverage through her employer has been too expensive.
“I live with several conditions, but without health care, what can I do?” asked Stephens, an airport security guard who said she also needed treatment for a lump in her throat.
Stephens told his story just before Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill requiring contract workers at Newark Airport and its train station to receive a raise in wages and quality health benefits.
“Today I am finally, finally, finally – FINALLY! – finally full of hope for me and for all of us, ”Stephens said during a ceremony at the airport to defend the law, known as the Healthy Terminals Act. “Having ETS means we won’t have to choose between feeding our families and taking care of our health.”
The law (S989) affects more than 10,000 workers at the airport, including baggage handlers, guards, cleaners and food service workers.
Officials have said it will increase worker pay rates from $ 16.20 per hour to $ 19 per hour by September 2023 and require employers to cover $ 4.54 per hour in care benefits health.
It demands that contract workers at the airport be paid at rates of pay that are at least those set by federal wage law in effect for employees of construction services. It also requires that they receive additional benefits equal to those designated by the US Commissioner of Labor.
The bill passed by the Democratic-controlled state legislature largely along party lines earlier this year – 23-12 in the Senate and 47-25 in the Assembly.
Murphy, a Democrat, was joined on Thursday by State Senate Speaker Stephen Sweeney D-Gloucester and State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin D-Middlesex. They said the law was particularly crucial in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“When you go to work every day doing your job in a global transportation hub, in the midst of a global pandemic, quality and affordable health care becomes more than just a benefit. It becomes a fundamental right, ”Murphy said. “All we’re saying with this law is that every worker deserves to be able to afford a health care plan that works for them and their families.”
State MP Annette Quijano, D-Union, one of the main sponsors of the measure, called it a “victory for black, brown and immigrant workers who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic ever since. on day one, disinfecting planes, cleaning terminals, securing their airports, processing large shipments of PPE and supplies. “
Sweeney added: “It’s a great day for the workers.”
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Brent Johnson can be reached at [email protected].