Nightmare before Christmas: JFK workers vote to strike on Dec. 20

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Hundreds of employees at John F. Kennedy International Airport voted today, approving a strike that could snarl the flow of holiday travel.

Workers plan to walk out of the job on Dec. 20. in a one-day strike, Michael Allen, a spokesman for Service Employees International Union, told Metro.

The workers are employed by Air Serve. Another 100 employees of Global Elite Group are expected to vote in favor of a strike Friday. Their responsibilities range from inspecting planes for weapons or explosives to securing gates.

They’re calling for higher wages — some are making $8 an hour without benefits — better equipment and more job training. Workers claim low wages keep them in constant poverty and the high rate of turnover threatens the security of the flying public.

“The security of the traveling public is very important to me,” Shah Rahman, an Air Serv security officer, said. “That’s why my coworkers and me have been telling Air Serv about problems we’ve encountered on the job. We submitted petitions. Air Serv instead is trying to silence us.”

They’re also considering unionizing, after what they call intimidation on the part of their employers to prevent employees from organizing and forbidding them from discussing working conditions.

“These issues have only just come to our attention this week.  We are now in the process of reviewing them,” Air Serv Corporation said in a statement. “As our policies make clear, we value employees’ input on matters of concern to them. Accordingly, we will be speaking with employees on these matters in the days and weeks to come.”

The workers have filed several complaints with the Transportation Security Administration regarding lack of training and poorly functioning equipment.

“The investigation did not reveal any regulatory violations,” a TSA spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the compliance of the companies.”


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