Port Authority board approves minimum wage hike to $19/hr. for airport workers

By Emily Bader
Newark | Sep 27, 2018 at 4:17 pm

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a large increase in the minimum wage for workers at Newark Liberty International Airport on Thursday — some of which will come now, and most of it later.

On Nov. 1, workers will see a $2 an hour increase, to $12.45 — and receive subsequent increases up to $19 an hour by 2023.

Gov. Phil Murphy said he’s long been advocating for a living wage for airport workers and is pleased with the Port Authority’s response to this issue.

“I have long advocated for a living wage for airport workers at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,” he said. “With today’s vote, the agency has made it clear that they have heard the voices of approximately 40,0000 airport workers who will be impacted by increased wages on both sides of the Hudson.”

Murphy said he hoped the increase would impact workers everywhere.

“While the Port Authority’s decision to boost wages for workers is an important step toward a stronger and fairer economy that works for everyone, we cannot give up until all of New Jersey’s workers earn a living wage,” he said. “I am confident that Port Authority’s decision to boost wages for airport workers will increase both morale and productivity, something that will hopefully inspire other employers to take similar steps.”

Here’s how the increases will come.

The minimum wage will grow to $15.60 by Sept. 1, 2019, at which point Newark airport workers will have equal pay to the wages of workers at JFK and LaGuardia airports.

Wages will then increase to $16.20 in 2020, to $17 in 2021, to $18 in 2022 and to $19 in 2023.

The Port Authority board of commissioners said the higher wages will benefit all who use the airport, as it likely will lead to reduced staff turnover while providing a workforce that will be better able to handle emergencies, security, operational safety and customer service.

“There’s no doubt that this new policy will greatly benefit the traveling public,” Port Authority Vice Chairman Jeffrey Lynford said.  “Better wages and benefits will result in significantly reduced staff turnover, allowing for better trained and observant employees who can assist in our overall security efforts as well as in emergency situations.

“It also will improve workplace morale and productivity.”

Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton agreed.

“The safe and efficient operation of the Port Authority’s airports hinges on a stable, motivated, engaged workforce which can enhance overall security efforts and assist customers in an experienced, knowledgeable and positive fashion,” he said.

“We believe this substantially improved minimum wage for airport workers will greatly reduce turnover, improve morale and develop better trained workers as critical contributors to airport operations and security in this post-9/11 world.”

The board decided to pass the policy after public input on the issue, including approximately 800 written comments from workers, the business community, experts and elected officials.

“This is an historic day for the Port Authority,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said. “We’d like to express our sincere thanks to the nearly 800 people who submitted written comments, and the hundreds of airport workers who attended our meetings and shared their stories over the years.

“Today’s action will not only make a difference in the lives of airport workers but will enhance security and improve customer service at all of our facilities.”

Emily Bader | ebader@roi-nj.com | emilybader