And while JetBlue Airlines revealed a plan during the rally to comply with the Port Authority’s demand for raising airport worker’s salaries to a minimum of $10 an hour by 2015, activists say it is still not enough.
Luis Sancacz has been employed as a runway maintenance worker at JetBlue for nearly a year and half.
Anticipating wage increases after promises from the airline when he was first hired, the middle-aged employee still earns $9 an hour, the same he was paid when he first took the job.
“Even $10 is ridiculous,” Sancacz said, suggesting they raise the minimum wage to $15 for all airport workers. “This isn’t over.”
In addition to his dissatisfaction with the low wages, Sancacz and others also accused JetBlue of operating without the proper equipment for runway workers.
“It’s nothing,” Sancacz said. “This company doesn’t have the proper machine for the cleanup. It’s ridiculous. It’s too much responsibility.”
Bishop Orlando Findlayter joined the 32BJ airport workers in front of JetBlue corporate headquarters, at 27-01 Queens Plaza North in Long Island City last week to rally for an answer to their call for higher pay.
“Don’t give up,” Findlayter said. “If we fight together, we win together. When you have victory, we all have victory.”
After waiting in the lobby to speak with a JetBlue representative for more than 30 minutes – and after it was reported that the current spokesperson was out of the state at the time – airline representative Elliott Michael delivered a statement noting their plan to raise the minimum wage for airport workers to $10 an hour by next year.
The announcement noted previous remarks by Port Authority executive director Pat Foye that, “JetBlue has advised its business partners that as we issue RFPs or renegotiate agreements for services at those airports, we will work with those partners to address wages in a way that keeps competition fair and the playing field level, raising wages to $9 in 2014 and providing for hourly wage levels of $10 and above in 2015 and beyond.”
JetBlue added that all crew members in New York and New Jersey already currently earn more than $10 an hour.
Findlayter reported the news back to the eager crowd of union workers waiting outside, calling for tentative celebration.
“This is a victory and we ought to celebrate it,” Findlayter said, holding the paperwork in hand. “But, we must be watchful to make sure they comply with what they say they’re going to do and then make sure there are also benefits that go along with the pay increase.”