Strike averted as LaGuardia airport workers and JFK ratify contract
After negotiations that lasted more than 3 months, a committee representing more than 10,000 mostly black and immigrant airport workers at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports overwhelmingly ratified a new 3-year contract that has avoided a strike.
As passenger numbers continue to rise, the contract is expected to provide contracted airport workers with guidance on implementing the Healthy Terminals Act (HTA), which will provide healthcare to frontline workers. at the airport, in addition to improving health and safety directives and increasing protections against discrimination at work.
“This contract not only meets our current needs, but also prepares us for a future where we can avoid many of the devastation we faced during the pandemic,” said Venice Russell, cabin cleaner at JFK and committee member. negotiation. “For airport workers, health care justice is about racial justice. As we continue to make airports work, having health care, protections against discrimination and the claim that essential workers are valued will enable us to move forward, to rebuild and to d ” uplift our families and communities during this recovery and beyond. “
Airport employees represented by 32BJ Service Employees International (32BJ SEIU) include contract representatives of passenger services, cabin and terminal cleaners, baggage handlers, security guards, wheelchair attendants and skycaps working for 23 airline subcontractors. The contract also includes the extension of recall rights for workers made redundant during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Throughout the negotiations, airport workers won the support of local and state officials, including Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman, sponsors of the Healthy Terminals Act,” said the president. of the Borough of Queens Donovan Richards. “I would like to congratulate 32BJ and our airport employees for the ratification of a new contract implementing the HTA. Airport workers risked their lives to keep our airports safe and our economy strong during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is so important that the new contract contains provisions protecting the health of these vital workers . “
On July 1, HTA health care coverage began at JFK and LaGuardia airports for more than 2,000 workers who worked during the pandemic. Historic statewide legislation – the first of its kind in the country – provides a benefit supplement that can provide meaningful and long-lasting health care benefits without a monthly co-premium for airport workers.
Labor management committees will also now meet quarterly and will have better access to information to ensure compliance with health and safety guidelines, including regulations from the CDC, the Department of Health and OSHA, as well as the review of policies relating to personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing, contact tracing and other procedures.
The contract includes protections against discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles closely associated with racial, ethnic or cultural identities such as braids, dreadlocks or afros. The bargaining committee also preserved Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid public holiday, widely seen as a major victory in the airport workers’ fight for racial justice.
“Our bargaining committee has worked tirelessly to secure this strong new contract, and we are pleased to see that the hard work has paid off,” said 32BJ SEIU President Kyle Bragg. “Airport workers play a key role in our post-pandemic recovery. After a year that has been defined by calls for racial justice and the safety of our core workers, this contract will propel our airports towards a recovery that puts workers first. “
This story first appeared on QNS.com.
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