For immediate release
September 27, 2018
RWDSU: Chelsea Connor
cconnor [at] rwdsu [dot] org
UNITE HERE: Meghan Cohorst
mcohorst [at] unitehere [dot] org
Airline Catering Workers Will Finally Be Included in Wage Policy
(NEW YORK NY) – Today, Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Bill Granfield, President of UNITE HERE Local 100, and Alvin Ramnarain, President of RWDSU Local 1102 lauded the vote by the Port Authority to enact a new wage resolution. In addition to increasing wages, the new policy includes the nearly 5,000 airline catering workers who were excluded from the Port Authority’s previous wage policy.
The long-delayed vote, which was strongly opposed by the airline industry, would steadily increase base wages for airline catering and airport concessions workers, many of whom were receiving the respective states’ minimum wages, to $19 per hour by 2023. RWDSU and UNITE HERE represent over 7,600 workers at LaGuardia, JFK and Newark airports, but implementation of the proposal could impact tens of thousands of workers at area airports in the largest sector-based minimum wage increase in the country. Workers at Port Authority airports will start seeing these pay increases on November 1.
Joint Statement from Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Bill Granfield, President of UNITE HERE Local 100, and Alvin Ramnarain, President of Local 1102 of the RWDSU:
“Today, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey increased wages for tens of thousands of airline catering and concessions workers. This increase will fundamentally change the lives of the hard-working people who make our airports run every day and will begin November 1, despite strong opposition from the airline industry. Service workers at LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty are key to the success of our region’s airports. The new wage floor of $19 per hour by 2023 shows tens of thousands of workers that they are valued by the people of New York and New Jersey and will allow hard working women and men to finally support themselves and their families with their airport jobs. Crucially, we were happy to see that the Port Authority’s resolution covers all airport service workers. This remedies an oversight in the previous policy, passed in 2014, which did not include airline catering workers. We thank the Port Authority for approving this resolution unanimously, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for their support.”
“I have been a driver for the airline catering company Gate Gourmet at La Guardia airport for 26 years. Despite my hard work and dedication, I don’t earn enough to support my family. To make ends meet, I pick up extra shifts and overtime every week, but this means that I work long hours that keep me from being with my family. Raising the minimum wage at the airport to $19 an hour will allow me and my co-workers to earn enough to support our families,” said Franz Vieux, a RWDSU Local 1102 Member who works for Gate Gourmet at LaGuardia Airport.
“This is a moment that I and many other airport workers in New York and New Jersey have spent years fighting for,” said Nelly Etienne, a UNITE HERE Local 100 member who works for United Airlines in the airline’s Newark Airport catering kitchen. “For me, a raise to $19 per hour will mean that I can provide a better life for my four children. We’ll finally be able to move into a home of our own.”
New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said, “This is what happens when working people stand together and speak with one voice. I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters of RWDSU, UNITE HERE Local 100, and RWDSU Local 1102 who never wavered in their fight for a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work. This is just the beginning. The Labor Movement remains committed to making sure workers continue to have an opportunity for a better life for themselves and their families.”
“When working people come together, we win together,” said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “Increasing wages for thousands of workers at our area airports was a challenging undertaking, and together the RWDSU, UNITE HERE Local 100, and RWDSU Local 1102 closed a glaring gap in the 2014 wage order for workers in catering and concessions. Organized Labor and workers are coming together to improve their lives and, most importantly, there are 7,600 union workers and tens of thousands of workers across two states who will finally earn a fair wage for their work.”
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The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States, including 55,000 in New York and New Jersey. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). For more information, visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
UNITE HERE is a labor union with over 270,000 members in the U.S. and Canada, including over 5,000 workers in the New York and New Jersey airline catering and concessions industries. For more information, visit www.unitehere.org or www.unitehere100.org.