Airport workers’ strikes suspended at Newark Liberty, 3 other airports

Posted: Updated:

Hundreds of airport workers who walked out on their jobs Tuesday evening were back at work Wednesday morning, according to 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union.

Rob Hill, vice president of 32BJ SEIU, said in a written statement that strikes at Newark Liberty, LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Philadelphia International airports have been suspended but could resume if talks between the union, American Airlines and other stakeholders fall apart.

"The strike, involving thousands of airport workers employed by American Airlines’ contractors, still looms as the union, American and other stakeholders sit down to talks at 11 a.m. Wednesday,” Hill’s statement read, in part.

Hundreds of airport workers at Newark Liberty walked off the job Tuesday to protest what they are calling unfair labor practices.

Dozens of baggage handlers, shuttle drivers and cabin cleaners picketed in front of the Newark Liberty in protest. All of the workers are employed by PrimeFlight, a subcontractor for American Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines.

The workers said they are tired of the company threatening and intimidating them over their efforts to organize. They said that they have been trying to negotiate with the company for months over issues including wages, scheduling, seniority, workloads and safety regulations. 

“Some of my co-workers have been touching bodily fluids without gloves,” said cabin cleaner Steven Leoa. “They don’t give us enough gloves to actually clean the planes.”

Hill said the Newark Liberty employees returned to work Wednesday after an 8 a.m. rally at the airport.

"Airport workers have been fighting for a living wage and a union for nearly five years. They are willing to do whatever it takes to win, whether that means walking off the job or giving American Airlines the chance to make things right. If these talks break down, we are prepared to strike at any time,” Hill’s statement said.

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