JFK employees protest working conditions
by Andrew Pavia
Nov 29, 2012 | 1095 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As travelers made their way to their flight at JFK Airport the day before Thanksgiving, they may have found themselves in unwittingly in the middle of an ongoing dispute at one of the nation’s busiest airports.

The employees of Air Serv and Global Elite Group, two security organizations at the airport, held a protest calling for more money and better equipment.

Air Serv provides security officers to patrol the outside of the terminals and direct traffic. Company representatives argue that employees are having trouble doing their job because they don’t have radios that connect them to a dispatcher.

Air Serv employees are also responsible for checking planes for anything suspicious after they land at JFK. Many of the employees say that they have been rushed while performing this aspect of their job, and feel that safety protocols are being overlooked.

Along with a lack of radios, the workers, who currently make $8 an hour, are also demanding higher wages.

“We have a lot of problems,” said Laurel Boucher, an Air Serv employee of seven months. “We have security problems and right now we have no training.”

He said that he and his co-workers are simply told where to go and what to do without training, and they are then left to their own deceives to contact the proper authorities if a situation arises.

Employees of Global Elite, conversely, are tasked with checking the inside of the planes for suspicious items after they land. Company representatives say they are being rushed to complete the inspection in under five minutes in some cases.

“We want better standards, better wages, better benefits and we need sick days,” said Gladys Restow, a traffic security officer for Air Serv.

Restow told a story about having to break up a fight in front of a terminal and was lucky enough to have a radio, but no one answered. Restow said that the dispatcher did not pick up her call for additional help to stop the fight from escalating.

“We fear for security here,” she said. “If we don’t have the proper radios we can’t communicate. If I’m directing traffic and an accident happens or I see unattended luggage how am I going to tell you? By smoke signals?”

Speaking from personal experience, she said that she received no training and was “just thrown out there,” and was told to figure out how to do her job. Restow went on to say that she wasn’t even briefed on the layout of the airport.

“You are endangering us as employees and the passengers that come in and out of this airport,” Restow said.
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