Port Authority OKs phased-in $19 minimum wage at airports

The board of commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced Thursday that it has approved a proposed minimum wage increase for thousands of airport workers.

The board said in a news release that workers at JFK International, La Guardia and Newark Liberty International airports would earn a $19-an-hour minimum wage by 2023 under the plan, which is subject to public comment from early April to early June and a subsequent final vote, expected on June 28.

“Building state-of-the-art new terminals, enhancing security and improving the customer experience across all our airport facilities won’t succeed if the men and women who work there don’t’ do their jobs well. And people cannot be expected to do their jobs well if they aren’t paid well,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said in a prepared statement. “This board has heard the voices of airport employees who’ve shared their stories with us over the years. We know that higher wages won’t only make a difference to them personally, but will have a significant impact in workplace morale and productivity that will directly enhance the experience of the traveling public visiting our airports.”

The new wage would represent a $2-an-hour raise for Newark airport employees, the Port Authority said. The minimum wage at the New Jersey airport would increase from the current $10.45 an hour to $12.45 on Sept. 1, then $15.60 by Sept. 1, 2019. That would equal the revised minimum wage at the two New York airports, and from then on, the wage would rise in sync to $16.20 in 2020, $17 in 2021, $18 in 2022 and finally $19 in 2023.

Workers at the New York airports currently receive a $13 an hour minimum wage.

The minimum wage would apply to all workers at the airports, regardless of their employer, meaning workers for contractors and subcontractors would also receive the pay rate.

“This policy will not only be a financial boost to thousands of dedicated airport workers, but will result in significantly reduced staff turnover — enabling stronger security,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said in a statement. “Studies have shown that higher wages for airport workers decrease turnover by as much as 40 percent.”