A walkout among some baggage handlers, security guards and other workers at New York's two major airports was averted after the subcontractor they work for and the union that seeks to represent them reached a deal Wednesday.
Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union said contractor Aviation Safeguards agreed to be neutral regarding union representation for its employees at John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.
"We are pleased to announced that the voices of 1,200 workers have been heard," Local 32BJ president Hector Figueroa said.
The union had said that as many as 1,200 workers would walk off the job Wednesday night at JFK and Thursday morning at LaGuardia. The workers say they earn $10.10 an hour and are seeking a $15 minimum wage.
Aviation Safeguards' parent company, Herndon, Virginia-based Command Security Corp., said in a statement that its employees "will be guaranteed a peaceful environment" in which to make the decision whether to be represented by the union.
"The company believes that ultimately the decision about union representation is one made by our employees," Command Security said. "(The company) will continue to remain neutral on whether our employees should be represented or by whom."
At a news conference Tuesday, union supporters charged that Aviation Safeguards had threatened to fire workers for union organizing.
The company's CEO, Craig Coy, denied the accusation and said the company is not anti-union.