PHOTO: A plane readies for takeoff at John F. Kennedy International Airport. (Courtesy of Thinkstock)
Air travel at New York City’s two biggest airports could be snarled for the next two days as contract workers for Service Employees International Union’s Local 32BJ voted to walk off the job at 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 22 at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 7.
The strike is scheduled to end at 1 a.m. Thursday, July 23 then resume at 6 a.m. the same day at LaGuardia Airport unless an agreement is reached.
The more than 1,000 contract workers, which include baggage handlers, security officers and wheelchair attendants, all work for Command Security Corp. subsidiary Aviation Safeguards. SEIU has said Aviation Safeguards tried to stop its employees from unionizing, a charge the company denies.
In a statement, the union said, “While the airlines have been making record profits and the Port Authority has approved billions of dollars to modernize LaGuardia airport, the airport workers who make these profits possible are struggling to survive.”
JFK processes more than 50 million passengers a year and Terminal 7 is home to three of its biggest airlines – United, British Airways and Cathay Pacific.
It appears the union workers made at least a conciliatory gesture in starting the strike at 10 p.m., a time when fewer flights are coming in and out of JFK. But if the walkout continues into Thursday at LaGuardia, it could have an effect on Delta Air Lines, which controls more than nearly a quarter of all traffic at LGA.
In a statement issued to Bloomberg News, Delta said it “will be taking measures to ensure that our more than 35,000 customers booked through LaGuardia on Thursday are not affected.”
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which runs New York City’s airports, told Bloomberg in a statement that it “has taken significant steps in recent years to encourage wage and benefit increases for employees of airline contractors at its airports.”