News

JFK Airport Security Officers To Hold Strike Authorization Vote

Workers protesting at JFK Airport - Nov. 21, 2012 (credit: Marla Diamond / WCBS 880)

Workers protesting at JFK Airport – Nov. 21, 2012 (credit: Marla Diamond / WCBS 880)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Airport security officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport are expected later in the week to vote to authorize a strike.

Security officers employed by the firms Air Serv and Global Elite are expected to take the votes on Thursday and Friday, respectively, union officials said.

The Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ said in a news release that both companies had retaliated against officers who came forward to file complaints with the Transportation Security Administration.

The officers had complained about what the union called “systemic lapses in security standards” involving “shoddy equipment, rushed searches, and lack of training that endangers the flying public.”

Non-union security workers picketed at JFK last month, complaining that they are underpaid and poorly trained.

“We’re the eyes and the ears for the whole airport and people need to recognize that,” said Gladys Restow, a traffic guard for Air Serv Security “Eight dollars for a guard to stand at these alarm doors is not funny.”

They also said that once a plane lands, security checkers with Global Elite are being rushed.

“God forbid a terrorist leaves something there. If they do that in less than five minutes, guess what, they didn’t do a thorough job,” Restow told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond last month.

The New York State Senate Transportation Committee has launched an investigation.

The union also claimed the low pay and lack of benefits awarded to the officers threatened security by causing turnover so high as to be unacceptable.

The companies have also enacted policies forbidding the officers from talking about their working conditions, which the union said is illegal.

Organizers said they expect both unions to vote overwhelmingly for a strike. The vote affects about 200 AirServ workers and 100 Global Elite workers.

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