Air Safety on the Cheap

They're responsible for airport security but contractors still make poverty wages

Arguing that Jackson and his co-workers can't form a local union, Air Serv fought the effort. If they want to organize, the company said, they'd need to make their case to 700 Air Serv security guards at seven airports across the country. In May, the dispute went to the National Mediation Board, which ruled for Air Serv.

The ruling put an end to SSOBA's efforts, but now a bigger union is looking into the issue: The Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ is a massive and powerful union that has grown significantly in the past decade, in large part by organizing security workers.

Ten years ago, 32BJ represented about a thousand security guards, mostly bundled in with other commercial- and residential-worker contracts. After September 11, as demand for security services ballooned and the industry grew, 32BJ began aggressively organizing guards all over New York City and now represents 10,000 guards here alone.

From early on, the union's strategy has been to marry demands for better pay and benefits to a call for better training and higher professional industry standards. In every campaign, the workers' demands are presented as not just a wage grab, but as a way to improve security standards to benefit everyone. It has been a successful tactic.

At Air Serv, the tactic might be especially effective—partly because of Argenbright's shady history, but also because unions have already made inroads in other corners of security at local airports. TSA screeners are unionized. So is the Port Authority Police. And in the past two years, 32BJ successfully unionized security contractors working for FJC, a Long Island security company that provides perimeter, cargo, and vehicle security at New York's three major airports. 32BJ instituted a new 40-hour training program for FJC employees, but also nearly doubled their wages. FJC airport-security officers now start at more than $16 an hour.

Rob Hill, the organizing director for the union, says the difference in training standards and pay can be a point of leverage.

"You have people going to the airport, where the peripheral security that the Port Authority controls are at one standard," Hill says. But once inside the terminal, "it's still low-bid, whatever contractor will do it the cheapest and therefore pay their workers the least with the least benefits. I don't know if the public knows that for the officers, it's still a poverty job at the airport, where you'd think security would be the highest priority."

32BJ is still in the early phases of planning a campaign, but if it does get involved, it will work for better training and pay for airline contractors across the metro area.

"You can't make change working on one contractor at a time, because the airlines just change contractors," Hill says. "You need to get everyone to agree to a new standard, so all the contractors are competing on an even field."

Still in its early stages, the union's campaign could take months or years to bear fruit. If it's successful, Prince Jackson's wages could double. Jackson says that would be great, but even a bump up to $10 an hour would make a huge difference in his life.

"I could almost pay my rent with that," Jackson says. "Have a couple dollars left over even—not for me to save, but I could send my son $20 a week, take a little bit of the burden off of his mother."

npinto@villagevoice.com

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
R Satrohan
R Satrohan

Airsevr should be called airslave i work for them driving on the jfk ramp / runway and i get payed $8 hr .. and also if we call off the day befor or after our day off we get written up or suspended and we have to work 1 year befor we can get Five day vacation with pay . this company is s**t . Im trying my best to get something better but its hard in this time of age ..

Seattle Airport Transportation
Seattle Airport Transportation

Thank you for this weblog. That's all I can say. You most definitely have created this weblog into something thats eye starting and essential.

Security Guards Houston
Security Guards Houston

'Thank you for this blog. That's all I can say. You most definitely have made this blog into something thats eye opening and important. You clearly know so much about the subject, youve covered so many bases. Great stuff from this part of the internet. Again, thank you for this blog."

NYPD
NYPD

This is a great article and shows what the american workplace has become. Prior to the 1990's, a person convicted of a crime could still get a good paying job at a factory and therefore support a family. Today, we are a nation of wage slaves. Companies hire convicts because they work for virtually nothing, get no health care, and wont complain. When the blue collar jobs left the county, the white collar office workers did nothing to help. Now the white collar jobs are gone and the white collar jobless are now screaming bloody murder.

Corporations have taken over the planet. The richest man in New York is the Mayor. I am a New York City Police Officer and I have watched Mike Bloomberg bring the Enron culture to New York City government. Like the security guard in this article, NYPD officers were hired, including myself, at an annual salary of $25,100.00. The whole point of paying a police officer a good salary is so he or she will not take bribes or compromise his authority. Bloomberg did to the NYPD what the private security scam company in this article did to its own employees and the flying public at large. So it does not surprise me that we have security guards that are convicted criminals in the airports or police officers with shady backgrounds. This is done so that the wealthiest one percent like Bloomberg and the owners of these private security companies can rip off the taxpayers with their arguments of the "benefits" of privatization. Since Bloomberg has taken office and emasculated the NYPD salary structure, the NYPD has hired many police officers with misdemeanor convictions, felony arrest histories, or other contacts with the criminal justice system.

This article is part of the legacy of President Ronald Reagan firing the air traffic controllers that went on strike in 1981. One that day the signal went out to all the corporations and state and local governments that they could abuse their employees and get away with it.

I am a very bitter Police Officer. I put my life on the line for a low salary. I blame Mayor Bloomberg for this. But I also blame the public for this. The voters allow all of these scumbags like Bloomberg, Bush, Obama, and Cheney to be elected. Everyone in this City and the country is so selfish. People dont want to read or get informed or do what's right. People want to sit in front of their widescreen TV and watch that ape David Hasslehoff jog on the beach with a couple of blondes with fake breasts jiggling.

Well all I can do is try to do the right thing. The NYPD has become Enron. I write summons for minor infractions just so some boss can have a number and look good at a Compstat meeting at Police Headquarters. Enron was a pyramid scam, so is the NYPD. The only thing Bloomberg cares about is Manhattan's image. He doesnt want these insane homeless people terrorizing the tourists in times square, but you know what the homeless are coming back with a vengence. There are only so many homeless people a cop can arrest for disorderly conduct, before the homeless guy or the cop says enough is enough.

Anyway, I am one of the first wave of Police Officers who were hired at the $25,100 starting salary to pass the Sergeants Exam. My salary and responsibility increases. But you know what, I am not doing anything for anyone because I got screwed over all those years making $25,000, $31,000, or $50,000. So when I get promoted and make $100,000, I am going to remember how is was when I was being paid like a slave when the selfish person calls 911 for help, I will presume this selfish person allowed Bloomberg, Bush and Obama to get elected and pay me a slave wage.

Remember, the selfish airline customer who bought a cheap ticket and a huge widescreen TV, shouldn't be asking himself, "Gee why did this airline employee steal my luggage?"

VivlianWozz
VivlianWozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arella cheese,where it's dishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the "fresh pasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to be frozen.--Agedate. ℃⊙M--a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men,to interact with each other.

Christine_Whittemore_28
Christine_Whittemore_28

..Тhis is сrаzу...Мy friеnd`s sistеr mакеs 78/hr оn thе intеrnеt. Shе hаs bееn unеmрlоуеd fоr 11 mоnths but lаst mоnth hеr incоmе wаs 7985$ јust wоrкing оn thе РС fоr а fеw hоurs. Read about it here ....... C a s h M a n y . c о m

Christine_Whittemore_28
Christine_Whittemore_28

aefsghvnbm,This is crazy....my best friend's mom makes $88 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 10 months but last month her check was $5483 just working on the computer for a few hours...Read about it here.... WantJob.com .....

Christine_Whittemore_28
Christine_Whittemore_28

..Тhis is сrаzу...Мy friеnd`s sistеr mакеs 78/hr оn thе intеrnеt. Shе hаs bееn unеmрlоуеd fоr 11 mоnths but lаst mоnth hеr incоmе wаs 7985$ јust wоrкing оn thе РС fоr а fеw hоurs. Read about it here .......http://alturl.com/kaqea

hermadite
hermadite

It is reprehensible for loyal workers like jackson to receive a minimum wage for the job he is doing to protect travelers. Perhaps the pilots' union will offer them minimum wages to fly the planes. But don't hold your breath!

Txstatejesse
Txstatejesse

Mr. Jackson,I've worked for JetBlue at JFK for about 6mos now. I have seen our company hire allot of people while other airlines are struggling. Our business model is considerably different than other airlines which allows us to grow even in a tough economy. Please try and visit JetBlue's Work Here site ( https://workhere.jetblue.com/s... )

If you're looking for a job where your career, your passion, and your sense of fun are all important then you've landed at the right place. At JetBlue we've built an award-winning brand based on delivering value, service, style and comfort to our customers — and to our crewmembers. And, by hiring people who share our vision, we've created a place where people enjoy coming to work.

From our great company culture to our excellent benefits

More culture - our values aren't just words on a plaque, we live by themMore benefits - for now and the futureMore traveling - flight benefits for you and your loved onesMore diversity - we're a mix of many nationalities and walks of lifeMore style - we like to make a statement with our innovative product, state-of-the-art facilities and fashionable uniformsMore to brag about - ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Low-Cost Carriers in North America" by J.D. Power and Associates for five years in a rowPlease note: JetBlue Airways accepts applications and other documents regarding employment solely through our website. At JetBlue Airways, we respect your privacy. The information you provide to us through this website shall be handled in accordance with our privacy policy. Please see our Data Privacy Statement.

Burlock1958
Burlock1958

i just started a part time position with a major airline .. I m being paid $ 8.00 /hr also, even though I am responsible for security, luggage and cleaning of planes.. in the community I live in , even if I worked 40 hrs a week, and ALL of my income went to paying for rent, I would not be able to afford a 2 bedroom apt.. the greed of corporations who are paying poverty wages to workers has to stop..

Mikoe Wozz
Mikoe Wozz

I am a 27 years old doctor,mature and beautiful. and now i am seeking a good man who can give me real love, so i got a sername Andromeda2002 on Agedate.СòM, a nice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and younger men, to interact with each other.Maybe you wanna check out or tell your friends.

Cassidy
Cassidy

Hear, hear.

Too bad most people in the security services, military and paramilitary, are just plain dumb or way too cynical. But it's all very understandable, as you detail here.

In a democracy, you get the country you vote for. I DON'T BOTHER VOTING BECAUSE IT DOES NOT MATTER, HOWEVER. It does not matter because what is one vote compared to the millions of morons out there who believe the earth was created in seven literal days, or who think that naked capitalism is best??

 
New York Concert Tickets
Loading...