Tag Archives: Civil Disobedience

Port Authority orders airlines to raise wages, give paid holiday to airport workers


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

Airport workers have won a battle for justice.

Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Director Patrick Foye has ordered the CEOs of Delta, JetBlue, American and United airlines to immediately raise wages and make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a paid holiday for the 8,000 contracted workers at John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports.

Foye sent a letter to the four CEOs telling them to grant an immediate $1 an hour raise to workers making $9 or less, recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday and work towards “providing an improved wage and benefits package to the thousands of hard-working men and women at the airports.”

The announcement comes a week after close to 1,000 workers, elected officials and clergy members blocked a bridge leading to LaGuardia Airport on Martin Luther King Jr. Day during an act of civil disobedience demanding “economic justice.”

“Pat Foye’s letter is a promising step forward and marks the first real progress we have made in lifting thousands of contracted airport workers out of poverty,” said Hector Figueroa, president of SEIU 32 BJ, a union representing most of the airport workers. “We have gotten to this point due to the courage of the contracted airport workers and their willingness to take action – including being arrested for civil disobedience at LaGuardia Airport on MLK Day along with Congressmember Charles Rangel and many others.”

During the day of civil disobedience, more than 30 people were arrested, including city and state elected officials, and workers.

“It’s good that someone is finally listening to us and responding,” said Wendy Arellano, a LaGuardia Airport cabin cleaner. “This is a good plan. It’ll be better when we have good benefits, security and the peace of mind that a good contract gives you. But, for now, getting us up to 10 dollars and 10 cents is a real start.”

Figueroa said that the work will still continue to “bring contracted airport workers the dignity and respect they deserve,” and also help these workers get out of the path to poverty and succeed in gaining economic justice.

 

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Neighbors protest meat market


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Neighboring residents of a local meat market in Bellerose rallied to shut the market down on Monday, September 19.

Dozens of angry nearby homeowners protested alongside New York State Senator Tony Avella outside the store. They said Super Halal Meat Market, located at 253-06 Hillside Avenue, defies building and health codes and severely impacts the neighborhood’s quality of life.

“It’s about two American dreams colliding,” said neighbor Jennifer Newsom. “He is here in America and he wants a business. We’re here in America because we want the American Dream of a home with a white picket fence — in quiet.”

Newsom, who lives two doors down, said that among “a lot of different things,” she’s concerned about the noise from the air conditioner, the smell from the garbage and meat and the traffic jams on the street.
“I’m sad that the community has come to this. Now we have a divide in the community where it doesn’t need to be,” she said.

According to the Department of Agriculture and Markets, Super Halal Meat Market has failed three inspections since they opened last October. During this month’s inspection, the market was pinned for two critical deficiencies. The meat in the cooler was not cold enough — destroying 162 pounds of meat — and flies were present in the meat processing area, said spokesperson Michael Moran.

“No matter who you are in this city or state, if you run a business, you have to be a good neighbor and you have to follow the law,” Avella said. “It’s clear the owner of Super Halal Meat Market thinks he can fail on both counts. He’s not a good neighbor and he’s not following the law.”

The market has also racked up over $25,000 in total violation fines from the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Department of Buildings and the Environmental Control Board.

The fines have not been paid as of Monday, Moran said.

“There comes a point where you realize these people have no interest in resolving the complaints. I’ve decided it’s time to get the agencies to close them down,” Avella said.

Market owner Sheraz Khan said he is paying “pending fines” but still has to go to court for each violation. He said he has paid about $10,000 already.

“I never received any other bills. They were never fines. They were just warnings,” he said. “It’s pretty unfair. A lot of things have changed. We messed up in the beginning, but I’m fixing all the mistakes that were made. It’s not like I’m ignoring them. It doesn’t mean that we should be harassed.”

For neighbor Cecil Outram, besides the fact that traffic blocks the street and noisy trucks come “at all hours,” he said he doesn’t mind having the store across the street.

“It brightens the area in a way. They’re open 24 hours a day and I take the bus at 4 o’clock in the morning. It makes it safer,” he said. “They have to make a living too.”