Just in time for the holidays, airline workers at JFK, LaGuardia and several other major airports across the country will be going on strike tonight in a bid for higher wages.
Employees holding jobs ranging from ramp workers to baggage handlers to wheelchair attendants are protesting what they say is unfair treatment by contractors, saying that in some cases, they're paid as low as $6.75 per hour. JFK employees who work for the subcontractors Roma and Ultimate Aircraft will be walking off the job tonight at 10 p.m.
Across the rest of the country, more than 2,000 workers at Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago O’Hare and Newark Liberty will also be striking.
“Despite working fulltime, they cannot afford to rent a room for themselves let alone take care of their families,” Marc Goumbri, an SEIU spokesman with the workers campaign, told the Wall Street Journal. “The workers have a right to get together under federal law and fight for better working conditions, but when they do so they face retaliation from the contractors.” The walkout was first conceived last month, when the SEIU sponsored a a convention for concerned airport workers in Washington.
It's currently unclear how the strike will impact operations, but it IS clear that this coming week is among the busiest travel times of the year, with 3.6 million Americans expect to leave home for Thanksgiving.
The strike will begin tonight at JFK's Terminal 5, and a picket line rally will be held in the same location tomorrow at 7 a.m., along with a press conference at noon.