SEIU brokers $15/hr minimum wage victory for thousands of NJ, NY airport workers
- The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), an labor union representing skycaps, baggage handlers and other airport workers, successfully negotiated a $15 an hour wage plus union recognition for an estimated 8,000 employees in the states of New York and New Jersey, reports BuzzFeed.
- Airport workers are the latest victors in the Fight for $15 movement, originally created by fast food employees with the goal of achieving a national hourly minimum wage of $15. The deal also benefits airport security officers, cleaners and wheelchair handlers. SEIU cut the deal with a dozen contractors in New York and New Jersey. BuzzFeed says the victory could lead to the unionization of subcontractors nationwide.
- Airport workers now join healthcare workers in the Fight for $15 victory. Besides wages and union recognition, the agreement covers seniority, disciplinary policies and scheduling. Ratification is expected some time next week.
BuzzFeed calls the airport workers’ gains modest but significantly symbolic, since they’ve been longtime supporters of the Fight for $15 movement. Union recognition is monumental for employers, though.
Union membership has been steadily dropping during the past several decades, and Republican governors like Scott Walker of Wisconsin have cracked down on their influence in the workplace. But could the airport, healthcare and fast food workers’ victories mark the start of massive unionization across various industries? Employers must wait and see.
Shirley Aldebol, vice president of SEIU’s 32BJ New York chapter, told BuzzFeed that the airport worker’s victory was just one part of a bigger strategy to gain higher wages and union recognition. And Rob Hill, vice president and 32BJ’s organizing director, said the airports used to create bidding wars among individual contractors, which drove down wages.
SEIU cut through that tactic and negotiated a Fight for $15 win that affects all contractors and could mean unionization for subcontractors. This agreement also might indicate a revival of union representation and more difficulty for employers to forge bargaining agreements.