– The 1,200 Aviation Safeguards workers who were planning a potentially crippling strike beginning at 10:00 pm Wednesday July 22nd 2015 will report to their posts as usual after the company agreed to a deal with the employees and 32BJ SEIU.
“We are pleased to announce that the voices of 1,200 workers have been heard,” Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ, told reporters at a press conference at the LaGuardia Airport Mariott Hotel. “In response to the concerns raised by Aviation Safeguards employees at LaGuardia and JFK Airports, an agreement has been reached between Aviation Safeguards and 32BJ SEIU.”
“It’s a great surprise. This means that all our bravery and organizing has paid off. Canceling the strike is acceptable with these terms,” said Juan Chapman an Aviation Safeguards security officer who was planning to go on strike. “When you want something you have to fight for it. Don’t wait for help. You can make it all if you believe.”
Under the terms of the signed agreement, Aviation Safeguards will agree to be neutral regarding its employees’ efforts to join 32BJ SEIU and will recognize 32BJ as the employees’ union of choice and agree to bargain a contract, if a majority of employees sign cards authorizing 33BJ to be their union representative through a card check procedure. Organizers believe they have more than enough votes for the union.
Union officials said 32BJ intends to win a Port Authority mandate of living wages of at least $15 dollars an hour and affordable health care for all subcontracted airport workers that includes these mandated wages. The Port Authority has stalled on its plan to enhance these workers’ wages and benefits for months now. Negotiations for a union contract are expected to begin this fall.
Over the last year airport workers have come together with other low wage workers in the Fight for $15. While the airlines have been making record profits and the Port Authority has approved billions of dollars to modernize LaGuardia airport, the airport workers who make these profits possible are struggling to survive.
Elected Officials support Aviation Safeguard airport worker’s decision to call off their strike:
“Thanks to the organizing efforts of our brothers and sisters in organized labor, workers at New York’s airports are one step closer to a real, livable wage in New York. No one should work full-time and still live in poverty. Now that Aviation-Safeguard has agreed to recognize the workers’ right to organize hundreds of workers have the ability to collectively fight for the ability to support their families,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. While there is more work to be done, I urge the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to give airport workers the increased wages they have earned.”
“Today is a great day for the men and woman of SEIU 32 BJ, for they have won their fight against Aviation- Safeguard, who will now recognize their right to organize. While this is a great victory don’t ignore that fact that these are the very men and women at JFK and LaGuardia airports who are still fighting for better wages and benefits,” said Senator Diane J. Savino. “ So let’s not forget that still needs to be addressed and I want them to know they will continue to have my support during their fight.”
“Aviation-Safeguard’s decision to formally sign an agreement to bargain in good faith is a huge victory for the hardworking men and women of JFK and LGA and a testament to 32BJ’s efforts to organize a meaningful campaign that gets real results,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “This agreement is a step in the right direction toward pulling workers out of poverty and I will continue to support, push and help give this campaign the momentum it needs to once and for all bring these workers the dignity they deserve.”
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who chairs the Subcommittee on Emerging Workforce, said, “Airport workers and all workers deserve fair wages and benefits. I was happy to hear today that Aviation Safeguard decided to join the table and do the right thing and I commend 32BJ SEIU for their mobilization efforts to make this a reality.”
“I am pleased that Aviation Safeguard has formally signed an agreement to bargain in good faith with our airport workers,” said New York City Councilman Mathieu Eugene. “However, the fight to guarantee a $15 minimum wage for these very hard working men and women is still not over. We as a city must now call upon the Port Authority to release their better wage and benefits plan to ensure that all airport workers in New York and New Jersey have their incomes raised above the poverty level.”
“The decision by Aviation-Safeguard to agree to bargain with its workers is a great win and a huge step towards ensuring subcontracted workers receive a living wage and all the benefits a full-time employee deserves,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “We must continue to work together to support the goal of lifting up airport employees, so they no longer have to choose between their bills and their next meal.”
“Congratulations to the Aviation and Safeguard employees and 32BJ for standing strong on their demand for decent wages and benefits. Today’s win is a tremendous step forward for the hard working men and women that keep our airports running. All workers deserve quality jobs and we must continue the push for a wage and benefits plan that raises the standards for all airport workers,” said Councilmember Ritchie Torres.
“This victory is proof that once united, workers can never be defeated in their fight for a living wage and benefits for themselves and their families. Congratulations to Aviation Safeguards employees for holding the line for all New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet. I look forward to Aviation Safeguards honoring their agreement to bargain in good faith so that their employees receive the wages and benefits that will lift them out of poverty,” said Councilmember Margaret Chin.
“We congratulate President Hector Figueroa and the members of 32BJ on an extraordinary victory,” said New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. “This fight was about dignity, respect and fairness in the workplace. The outcome is a testament to the power of organized labor standing together and speaking with one voice for the benefit of hardworking men and women. All workers deserve a voice and today’s victory will provide just that.”
“The value of the right to organize and collective bargain cannot be overstated. I applaud the workers at Aviation Safeguards for their hard work and commitment, as well as management, in addition to the union representatives at 32 BJ,” said Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor. “This is only one step on a long journey, but when workers are organized everyone wins.
“After months of fighting, workers’ rights have won the day. Congratulations to all of the airport workers of our city who are one step closer to a living wage,” said Council member Ydanis Rodriguez.
“The Fight for 15 is far from over, but this recognition is the first step in ensuring our hard working New Yorkers are treated fairly. No full-time, dedicated worker should be living below the poverty line. Our airports are the heart of this diverse city, thousands travel in and out every day from all over the world. Airlines are paid a heavy cost for their services – enough to share the wealth with the workers who keep them going. In order to ensure the safety of travelers, it is vital we ensure the safety of those at the ground level, the airport workers,” said Councilmember Elizabeth S. Crowley.
“Congratulations to the airport workers on their win in their struggle against aviation safeguards. This is not only a worker win, but a community win as well. It’s a great first step and the National Action Network will continue to stand with airport workers in their fight for living wages, health care, benefits, dignity, and respect,” said Rev. Phil Craig
“Airport workers organized and won, demonstrating the power of people standing united. I am proud to stand with 32BJ to fight for the right of all New Yorkers to earn a living wage and rights in the workplace,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.
“Congratulations to the hard-working men & women whose courage and dedication won this victory for themselves, for all of us who use our city’s airports, and for working people in New York,” said Council Member Rory Lancman.
“It is wonderful news for our airports, workers and passengers alike that a strike has been averted and all sides will return to the table to negotiate in good faith. Queens continues to urge the contractor to raise the wage to one that is livable for the thousands of workers and their families,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
With 145,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.