“We want change,” said Daniel Scott, who has been working with Aviation Safeguard at LaGuardia Airport for a year. “It’s very difficult to work for low wages. Something has to be done.”
Scott emigrated from Liberia over ten years seeking employment in the United States. He says that he cannot bring his children to America because he doesn’t make enough money.
The workers demanding the wage increases provide security, wheelchair and baggage assistance, along with other services in the airport. In the past, these employees would have worked for the airlines or airport directly, however, to save money airports have signed deals with subcontractors to fill these positions.
Jagbsh Bradhuman has been working for AirServ for over 10 years, and has made $8 an hour since the day he started. For three years, Bradhuman took a second job with Home Depot to make some extra income, but couldn’t find time to work at both locations.
“I have to work, I have a family,” he said. “I alone can’t maintain because I have to pay rent. If my wife didn’t work we would’ve starved.”
Bradhuman said that he gets to work by 4 a.m. five days a week via public transportation because he can’t afford to park his car at the airport.
“I’m not asking for a lot, it's time to get something more,” said Bradhuman, who emigrated from Guyana where he was a small business owner. “I wasn’t expecting this.”
Workers armed with petitions marched into LaGuardia Airport on Wednesday, October 30, and gave them to a representative with U.S. Airways.
When the U.S. Airways representative was handed the petitions, she asked “Do you need signatures? I don’t make enough money either. I need a pen.”
In the end, she accepted the petitions and said she would give them to airport officials.
AirServ did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
“The standards are so bad that people have really had enough,” said Rob Murray, organizing coordinator with 32BJ, which has held similar rallies at JFK Airport. “Part of the message is that the money is here, let’s make sure that we pay workers a living wage.”