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New York-area airport crews suspend strike, continue contact talks

NEW YORK — Several hundred workers, including baggage handlers, cleaners and customer service agents at three New York-area airports and Philadelphia International Airport have suspended a strike while contract talks continue.

Workers from PrimeFlight — a subcontractor for American Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines — went on strike at Newark airport at 9 p.m. Tuesday. Airline workers planned to strike Wednesday morning at JFK, LaGuardia, Philadelphia International airports.

But union vice president Rob Hill announced early Wednesday that "last-minute" talks between the union and American Airlines have resumed, so the union has "suspended" the strike while talks continued.

The workers, who are not unionized, are partnering with 32BJ Service Employees International Union. There are several open complaints against PrimeFlight with the National Labor Relations Board. The complaints allege coercive rules, refusal to furnish information and refusal to bargain.

Workers have said underpaid cabin cleaners aren't given enough time to do proper security checks while sweeping through airplanes. PrimeFlight employees are the baggage handlers, security workers, and cabin cleaners you might not even notice while grabbing a flight.

"Tonight we're here standing together, fighting for what we believe in - for all our rights," a customer service worker picketing at the airport said Tuesday night. "It's not just for me, it's for every single worker that works here."

The job actions will continue over the next few days.

PrimeFlight and American Airlines couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

It was not immediately clear how the strike might impact flight traffic.