NEW YORK (AP) — Several thousand contract workers employed at the New York City area's major airports voted Monday to join a union after campaigning for better pay and benefits.
The workers cheered as representatives from about a dozen major airport contractors stood and announced their support for joining the union in a packed room at Riverside Church in Harlem. About 4,000 workers signed cards expressing their wish to join the 32BJ Service Employees International Union, including baggage handlers, security officers, cabin and terminal cleaners and others.
"No longer can we tolerate poverty conditions," said the union's president, Hector Figueroa. "And no longer can we remain invisible."
At the front of the room, beneath a wide stone archway, sat several union workers who were counting the number of signed cards. One wall was covered with a list of workers' names.
About 12,000 contracted passenger service workers are employed at John F. Kennedy Airport, La Guardia and Newark Liberty. About 2,300 of them belong to other unions. Another 1,000 workers belong to 32BJ and are employed by other contractors with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airports.
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