Port Authority votes to raise airport workers’ wage to $19 an hour

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JERSEY CITY -

Workers at New Jersey-area airports will see their wages nearly double over the next five years.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Thursday approved a phased-in raise in the minimum wage for airport workers from $10.45 per hour to $19 per hour by 2023. The increase impacts workers at Newark Liberty, JFK and LaGuardia airports.

The first raise will occur this September, to $12.45 for airport workers in New Jersey and $13.60 in New York. Wages for workers in both states will rise in tandem after that.

“We’ll have a happier workforce, a better workforce. A safer environment, a safer airport facility,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “I think that’s part of what we're talking about here.”

The wage increase applies to all workers, regardless of their employer. Many workers are subcontractors of the airlines or terminal operators.

“It’s just that feeling of exhilaration going through my body. The fact that this actually happened is unbelievable,” said baggage handler Zakiyy Medina.

The raises will affect 40,000 workers in all of the Port Authority’s airports.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy attended Thursday's meeting and praised the board for approving the hikes, but criticized the disparity between the two states. He reiterated his vow to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour statewide.

“I am committed to working with my legislative partners to see those things through. Working families have waited long enough,” Murphy said.

The resolution opens a public comment period on the proposed wage increase that lasts from early April to June. After review, the board is scheduled to take final action on the wage increase at its June 28 meeting. If it is approved in that meeting, the increase will become official.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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