Workers at NYC Airports Will Likely Soon Make $19 per Hour

Mar 22, 2018

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Workers at New York City area airports are on the brink of earning one of the highest minimum wages in the country.

Years of demonstrating for higher wages are about to pay off for the 40,000 airport workers as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that runs the city’s airports, is expected to recommend a wage increase to $19 per hour. Experts predict the proposal will be approved by the agency’s board in June and be put into effect by fall 2023.

Even though all three of the city’s airports, Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia International Airport (LGA) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) are overseen by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the wages between workers at each respective airport have been unequal for years. The airport workers in New York state (at JFK and LGA) are making $13 per hour (the current minimum wage for large employers in New York), as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been gradually raising the state’s minimum wage toward the goal of $15 per hour.

Meanwhile, workers at New Jersey’s EWR are making the Port Authority’s minimum wage of $10.45, which is $2.55 less than pay at LGA and JFK, but is still higher than the state of New Jersey’s minimum wage of $8.60. The new wage agreement would mean an 80% increase in pay for EWR workers.

A minimum wage of goal of $19 would be the highest nationwide, Paul K. Sonn, general counsel at the National Employment Law Project told The New York Times. Higher pay trends started in West Coast airports to reduce instability with staffing, Sonn told the Times. Now, New York City’s airports are catching up.

The Port Authority’s proposal would gradually raise the airport employees’ pay over several years. Starting on September 1, 2018, EWR wages would increase to $12.45. By September 1, 2019, the wages at all three airports would increase to $15.60, and after three more periodic raises, pay would hit $19 in September 2023.

New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy, who has promised to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15, called the airport pay increases a matter of “economic fairness and justice,” the Times reports.

Likewise, New York Governor Cuomo told the Times: “This action is about decency and respect, and by raising the minimum wage for the dedicated men and women who fuel our regional economy, New York will continue to serve as a beacon of progress and opportunity for all.”

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