Port Authority Sets NY, NJ Airport Wages to $19/Hour
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unanimously voted to raise the minimum wage pay for airport workers on Thursday, from $15/hour to $19/hour. The increase makes the workers' wages the highest in the nation, including among several cities in the US that raised the minimum wage to $15/hour in recent years. The pay jump will take place in stages, and will go into effect for many New York State workers before the end of 2018, who currently earn $13/hour minimum. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour.
“This is going to be the highest targeted minimum wage anywhere in the country,” Hector J. Figueroa, president of 32BJ Service Employees International Union, told the New York Times. “That’s a significant breakthrough.” Figueroa's union represents many of the workers who will receive a pay increase.
The biggest beneficiaries are workers at New Jersey's Newark International Airport (EWR), who currently earn significantly less than their New York counterparts at LaGuardia (LGA) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). EWR workers currently earn the Port Authority’s minimum wage of $10.45/hour, which is $2.55/hour less than pay at LGA and JFK, but is still higher than the state of New Jersey’s minimum wage of $8.60/hour. Thus, the new wage agreement represents an 80% increase in pay for EWR workers.
The ruling comes after several months of deliberation by the relevant decision-makers, and years of lobbying and negotiation from unionized airport employees. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made a special trip to attend the Port Authority board meeting and urge them to consider approving the pay increase. “It’s smart, it’s right, it’s fair and you will reap the reward in dividends," Cuomo said.
The first step in the Port Authority initiative will occur on Nov. 1, followed by annual increases for the next four years. On Nov. 1, the minimum wage floor will rise to $13.60/hour for workers at LaGuardia and JFK, and to $12.45/hour for workers at Newark.
Additional reporting by Jessica Puckett.