JERSEY CITY, N.J. — A celebration of union airport workers poured out into the streets after the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey board meeting Thursday after the commissioners voted unanimously in favor of phasing in a wage increase.
"We will be able to invest more in what we believe in," said one worker. "You know, get more toys for the kids, fill up the refrigerator more. At least if I want to get a car, I can invest in a vehicle now."
Newark Liberty International Airport workers will see their wages increase from $10.45 an hour to $12.45, beginning Nov. 1.
John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia Airport workers currently make $13 an hour, in line with New York's minimum wage law. These workers will see a bump to $13.60 on Nov. 1. Then, New York's minimum wage will increase to $15 on Jan. 1, 2019.
On Sept. 1, 2019, all airport workers will see an increase to $15.60, then to $16.20 the year after that, then to $17 in 2021, $18 in 2022 and $19 in 2023.
“This campaign is about respect and paying a fair living wage for honest work in an industry that depends on its employees to safely operate some of the most important public facilities in our nation – our airports," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who showed up to today's Port Authority meeting to support workers.
Workers have been fighting for six years. The Port Authority passed a resolution in March to propose higher wages. Since then, they have reviewed hundreds of public comments and found that retaining workers — can make the difference in spotting a terror attack underway.
"We believe this substantially improved minimum wage for airport workers will greatly reduce turnover, improve morale and develop better trained workers as critical contributors to airport operations and security in this post 9/11 world," said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton.
As part of it's analysis, the Port Authority found that more than 30 percent of privately employed airport workers leave their job every year.
The wage increase will also even the playing field since Newark Airport workers doing the same job as their counterparts at JFK or LaGuardia currently get paid less.
The wage increase comes on the back of news that about 800 Newark Airport workers will be laid off, just as they were up for this raise.
“While the Port Authority’s decision to boost wages for workers is an important step toward a stronger and fairer economy that works for everyone, we cannot give up until all of New Jersey’s workers earn a living wage," said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.