Some security guards at John F. Kennedy International Airport have voted to go on strike next week if their employer doesn't respond to their concerns over issues including training and equipment.
Security worker Prince Jackson said about 100 employees of Air Serv Corp. voted Thursday to authorize a strike for Dec. 20. The employees are not unionized but are being supported by 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union.
Another group of workers, for Global Elite Group Inc., is scheduled to hold a vote on Friday.
The workers handle security issues such as directing traffic in front of the terminals at the airport, one of the nation's busiest, and making sure non-passenger areas including the tarmacs are secure.
Jackson said the guards had tried to reach out to their employers about their issues, asking for more extensive training and better equipment including radios and outer gear such as proper winter coats, but their situation hadn't changed.
Avoiding a strike, he said, "would take them coming to the table to address our concerns, to let us know that they care about us and would like to sit down and talk to us."
In a statement, Air Serv, which provides services to commercial passenger and freight airlines, said it had just learned of the concerns this week and was reviewing them.
"We value employees' input on matters of concern to them," the Atlanta-based company said. "Accordingly, we will be speaking with employees on these matters in the days and weeks to come."
Global Elite, a worldwide security company, blamed the union for "false statements and allegations" and not its employees, who it said "have always been our most valuable asset."
The company, based in Garden City, said that "every level of management is in constant dialogue with our trained and professional field staff" and that "all the necessary resources" are provided.
Union spokeswoman Tanya Tuzman said Global's employees had a history of trying to take their concerns to their employer and "for the company to deny the veracity of their workers' complaints just points to the lengths they would go to."
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