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Elected officials join protesters at JetBlue over low wages

State Sen. Jose Peralta (c) is one of several local ofifcials who called a community meeting to protest what they say is poor pay and benefits for Jet Blue workers.
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Elected officials in western Queens are turning up the heat on Long Island City-based JetBlue for paying airport workers low wages.

On Monday, more than 100 airport workers and residents from neighborhoods surrounding LaGuardia Airport attended a town hall meeting at the Jackson Heights Jewish Center and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) led a rally Wednesday at JetBlue’s headquarters in Long Island City.

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) called the town hall meeting to discuss two of JetBlue’s subcontractors, Roma and Primeflight, which they say pay their workers low wages with little or no benefits.

“JetBlue has ads up all over the city that say ‘JetBlue lives NY,’ but the poverty wages that the airline allows its subcontractors to pay are causing many residents of Queens to live in poverty,” Peralta said. “New York’s hometown airline needs to be good to New Yorkers. Years ago an airport job meant a decent salary, but, unfortunately, this is not the case anymore. A lot of airport workers struggle to make ends meet, at times having to decide between paying the rent and putting food on the table. It is my hope that some of the profits the airlines make will stay with the workers and with our neighborho­ods.”

Corona’s Josefa Haciano, a terminal cleaner at JetBlue’s JFK terminal, has worked for subcontractor Roma for the last eight years.

“I live in Queens and I don’t make enough to pay the rent and buy food, let alone invest time or money in my community,” he said. “This isn’t only about airport workers. The way Roma treats us affects me, my family and my whole community. JetBlue shouldn’t let that happen.”

On Wednesday, 30 airport workers and 32BJ members rallied with Van Bramer outside JetBlue’s corporate headquarters at Queens Plaza North. They complain that most airport workers live in the neighborhoods that surround LaGuardia and JFK, giving many Queens locales a concentration of poverty-stricken residents.

“My mother, father and stepfather were all union members, and because of this, they were able to have jobs with living wages and benefits to support out family,” Van Bramer said. “That’s why I’m standing with airport workers and 32BJ SEIU in their fight for better wages and working conditions.”

Van Bramer is no stranger to the plight of the airport workers. He has attended many of the rallies and marches, and was arrested for civil disobedience in 2014, when protesters closed the 94th Street Bridge approach to LaGuardia with a sit-in.

Van Bramer and some of the workers went into the headquarters with petitions demanding to see JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes. Hayes was not available so they asked for a meeting in the future.

“JetBlue made record profits last year,” Van Bramer said. “If they wish to be New York City’s Hometown Airline, they should make sure this bounty is reflected in higher wages.”

JetBlue did not comment.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Posted 6:00 pm, July 14, 2016
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Reader feedback

jilly from queens says:
If they're getting minimum wage then there's nothing to 'protest'. You get paid what you're worth and according to (any) marketable skills. Go protest at cuomo's front door, the same guy who keeps increasing ny taxes and cost of living.
July 17, 2016, 4:03 am
Dhruv from Elmhurst says:
I totally agree with comments from jilly, it's very easy to target companies, but no one voices to the actual people behind getting low income in households. Why not fight for lower taxes for these and many poor citizens of queens, Brooklyn and Bronx. Last year millions of dollars were collected from tax payers, how come government doesn't pay that back into these communities by lowering metro card fares. It's very easy to point fingers.
July 17, 2016, 7:31 pm
so skilled from Queens says:
Why are these highly skilled workers not highly paid. Oh right, they are unskilled.
July 18, 2016, 11:12 am
Carlos G Giron from Woodside says:
#Giron4NewYork To raise wages for workers, workers must raise their skills. To increase their skills, they need to get training and/or education. To get training and or education, they must be enrolled in an educational or vocational program, or have an apprenticeship. They can get that by a combination of government assistance and via private sector initiatives that can lead into job placements. But, what these Democrat elected officials are doing is just shameless pandering and pushing for more labor union involvement. Democratic career politicians know that by enlarging union membership they grow their voting electoral blocks. Self-serving pandering with no real, long-term solutions for the poor and working class. #Giron4NewYork
July 23, 2016, 11:20 pm

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