They were carrying a letter to pressure the company and United Airlines and JetBlue to deliver on a pay raise for contracted airport workers ordered by the Port Authority three months ago.
After building security at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road stopped the 32BJ SEIU members from taking the elevators to the Aviation Safeguard offices, the crowd of protestors sat on the floor of the lobby chanting “No Justice, No Peace.”
Michael Maragh, an Aviation Safeguard security officer at LaGuardia’s Terminal B, has worked 40 hours a week at the airport for a little over a year and makes $8 an hour, but only after the state passed minimum wage legislation.
“We need a living wage,” Maragh said. “People in the United States can earn $15 an hour, but not in New York. It’s impossible to live on $15 an hour in New York.”
Maragh said until companies like Aviation Safeguard and the airlines adhere to the $1 pay raise for those earning less than $9 an hour - with a phase-in to $10.10 - airport workers would continue to fight for even more.
“Nobody at the airport should be making under $20,” he said. “Doormen in Manhattan are getting $30 an hour plus benefits, so we can get that too.”
Following the protest and chanting inside 82-02 Kew Gardens Rd. lobby last week, the workers marched to the front lawn.
"We work just as hard as officers and cleaners directly contracted by the Port Authority, so why aren’t we earning wages and benefits on par with direct Port Authority subcontractors like Allied Barton?" Aviation Safeguard security officer Michael Carey asked the crowd of protestors.
Union members and workers attended the last Port Authority board meeting, where the pay raise was officially adopted by a unanimous 9–0 vote.
“I’m proud of the Port Authority for taking such a leadership role,” said board vice chairman Scott Rechler prior to the adoption of the agreement last month.
However, some airlines have yet to deliver on the mandate.
United Airlines responded to the vote in a statement.
“United fully supports fair wages for all workers and will continue to review this important issue and discuss the issue directly with the Port Authority,” said the airline.