Last updated: 12:34 AM ET, Thu July 23 2015

JFK, LGA Workers Call Off Strike

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | July 23, 2015

JFK, LGA Workers Call Off Strike

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A planned strike set to begin Wednesday night by more than 1,000 contract service workers at New York’s two biggest airports was averted before it began.

Aviation Safeguards, the company that employs the workers, and Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ came to a deal that would allow the workers to attempt to unionize with SEIU.

SEIU had been advocating on the workers’ behalf and had organized a strike that could have snarled air traffic at John F. Kennedy International Airport and nearby LaGuardia Airport.

The 1,200 contract workers, which include baggage handlers, security officers and wheelchair attendants, were set to strike and picket from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 1 a.m. Thursday morning at JFK, and then shift the labor action to LaGuardia starting at 6 a.m. this morning.

“We are pleased to announce that the voices of 1,200 workers have been heard,” Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ, said at a press conference called at the LaGuardia Airport Marriott Hotel. “In response to the concerns raised by Aviation Safeguards employees at LaGuardia and JFK Airports, an agreement has been reached between Aviation Safeguards and 32BJ SEIU.”

JFK processes more than 50 million passengers a year and Terminal 7, where the workers had planned to start picketing Wednesday night, is home to three of its biggest airlines – United, British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

If the walkout had continued into this morning at LaGuardia, it could have had an effect on Delta Air Lines, which controls nearly a quarter of all traffic at LGA.

Workers will now vote on whether to unionize and join SEIU, allowing the union to negotiate a contract on their behalf.

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