About 20,000 cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, restaurant staff and other minimum-wage workers at New York's three major airports could receive a substantial pay raise, following a proposal Thursday by the Port Authority of New York and Jersey.
Executive Director Rick Cotton proposed a phased increase that would raise wages annually, reaching $19 an hour in 2023, at a Port Authority board meeting in Jersey City, N.J. Currently, workers at Newark Liberty International Airport earn $10.45 an hour. In New York, where a state minimum-wage law passed in 2016, employees at John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports earn $13 an hour.
Mr. Cotton said that raising wages would improve customer service and productivity, while reducing turnover. “Airport workers deserve a fair and appropriate wage,” Mr. Cotton said. “And today is a great day for airport workers who strive for economic justice.”
Port Authority Vice Chairman Jeffrey Lynford said the increase would raise airport salaries to $35,000 a year, a 13.5% average increase each year over the next six years for the lowest paid workers. Port Authority board members unanimously approved the measure. It now will go through a public comment and review period, and a final vote will be held in June.
For years, airport workers have attended Port Authority board meetings, testifying during public sessions about their struggles to pay for rent, food and medicine, and to raise a family on such low wages. Most workers are employed by contractors or subcontractors to airlines, terminal operators and concessions.
Hector Figueroa, the president of 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, thanked commissioners Thursday for taking action.