Airport workers in New Jersey and New York demand $25 an hour and can “quit their jobs”

NEW JERSEY – When you take a flight from Newark Airport in New Jersey, there’s a good chance someone like Tanjanina Reynolds is helping prepare your plane for takeoff. And as a single mother living in Newark, she’s sure of one thing: $19 an hour isn’t enough these days.

On Thursday, three days before their current employment contract expires, hundreds of unionized airport workers affiliated with 32BJ SEIU demonstrated at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey offices on Montgomery Street in Jersey City.

Workers are pushing for a new contract at three facilities run by the Port Authority: Newark Airport, JFK Airport and LaGuardia Airport. Their current agreement expires June 30.

Find out what’s happening in Newarkwith free, real-time Patch updates.

“As a cabin leader, I am in charge of a team that makes sure planes are safe, clean and ready to take off,” said Reynolds, a member of 32BJ SEIU. “It is thanks to my coworkers and I that flights at Newark Airport remain on schedule and depart on time.”

“We deserve a salary that reflects the essential work we do,” he insisted.

Find out what’s happening in Newarkwith free, real-time Patch updates.

Reynolds and other union members plan to deliver about 2,000 postcards to the board, each with a handwritten message from an airport worker pleading their case.

And if they don’t get what they ask for, it could mean disruptions to summer travel as more than 10,000 32BJ SEIU members “walked away from their jobs,” their union warned, including security officers, cleaners, baggage and cargo handlers and agents. of wheelchairs.

One of their main demands? Raising the minimum wage at airports to $25 an hour.

Nearly six years ago, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a plan to raise the minimum wage at its airports to $19 an hour, the highest in the country at the time. The hike ended in 2023, when the minimum wage reached $19.

It was not just union members who benefited; the measure affected some 40,000 workers at Newark, JFK and LaGuardia airports.

Now, with rent and housing costs skyrocketing across the tri-state area, it’s time to raise the minimum wage again, union leaders say.

Workers said a “record surge” in passengers is expected to pass through the region’s airports this summer. According to the Port Authority, last month was its busiest month on record, with about 13 million travelers passing through its doors.

New monthly passenger records have been set in seven of the past 12 months, the agency said Friday.

Patch reached out to the Port Authority to see if it is considering a pay increase to $25. We received the following response:

“The Port Authority has taken a leadership role in ensuring that workers at JFK International, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International airports are among the highest paid in the country. The Port Authority’s action to expand the minimum wage policy in 2018 culminated in a $19 per hour wage for tens of thousands of airport workers beginning in September 2023.”

However, it is not just a wage increase that is needed, workers say.

The union also calls for “parity” between the three airports. Although they perform similar jobs, airport workers in New Jersey and New York have different health and paid leave benefits, the union says.

“My quality of life depends on having 100 percent employer-paid healthcare,” said Noyoyltzin De Jesus, a terminal cleaner at JFK Airport.

“I depend on medications that cost almost $4,000 every three months,” De Jesus said. “Without my health care benefits, it would be impossible to pay for my medications.”

“We need the Port Authority to continue its leadership role by raising wages and requiring the same health care, vacation and holiday policies for all airport workers that our counterparts in New Jersey have,” De Jesus added.

The $25 campaign has also gained support from another major union, Unite Here Local 100.

“Travelers cannot have a high-quality experience in the air without the services that our members and other airport workers provide on the ground,” said Secretary-Treasurer Sussie Lozada.

“Our workers deserve fair wages and benefits because no one should work in poverty,” Lozada urged. “We stand in solidarity with our members and all airport workers to demand essential rights for essential workers.”


As local airports become busier, airlines that are raking in huge profits must also dig deeper into their coffers in the name of justice, advocates urge.

The pay gap between executives and other airport workers is staggering, 32BJ SEIU spokespeople recently said:

“With tens of millions of travelers passing through Newark International Airport annually, making it the busiest aviation hub in the country, the workers who keep these facilities safe and clean play an essential role in our industry. of tourism and travel. However, their service has not been fairly compensated, even as airlines like American, Delta and United make multibillion-dollar profits. American Airlines CEO Robert Isom, for example, received a pay package of $31.4 million in 2023, roughly $15,000 an hour compared to the $19 an hour workers at JFK, LGA airports receive. and EWR.”

“In other words, he was paid 789 times the wages of airport service workers in the tri-state area,” the union said.

Send local news tips and correction requests to Learn more about advertising on Patch here. Find out how to post announcements or events on your local patch site. Don’t forget to visit Patch Newark’s Facebook page.

Get more local news delivered right to your inbox. Sign up for free Patch alerts and newsletters.

Leave a Comment