Swissport Cargo workers on strike in wake of unfair labor practices

"We demand a fair pay and recognition of our employees," said Osarugue Aibangbee, who has been working with the company for eight years in the warehouse department. "These unfair labor practices have been going on for far too long."

Workers from Swissport Cargo have rallied together in a 24-hour strike at Newark International Airport over unfair labor practices according to members familiar with the matter.

According to a press release provided by Swissport, Cargo filed a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Labor alleging that the company failed to pay the $4.60 per hour health and welfare supplemental benefit defined in the New Jersey Healthy Terminals Act.

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The Healthy Terminals Act, which went into effect in September 2021, requires employers at Newark International Airport to contribute $4.60 per hour (later raised to $4.80/hour) toward the cost of health insurance for their workers, or else to pay the workers an additional $4.60 (now $4.80) as part of their wages.

The DOL is currently investigating the complaint.

The act amends the State Building Contract Services Act and establishes a prevailing wage for certain workers at Newark Liberty International Airport and the Newark Liberty International Airport Train.

Osarugue Aibangbee has been working for Swissport Cargo for eight years demanding a fair and living wage

“We demand a fair pay and recognition of our employees,” said Osarugue Aibangbee, in an interview with the Hudson Reporter, who has been working with the company for eight years in the warehouse department. “These unfair labor practices have been going on for far too long.”

According to the press release provided to the Hudson Reporter, in October 2022, SEIU 32BJ filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against Swissport Cargo Services, L.P., alleging that the company coercively interrogated employees who supported forming a union, as well as retaliated against a union supporter by allowing vandalism of her car in a company parking lot.

“The company was breaking the law and with the support of the union, the workers received some type of relief earlier this year. But it is not enough. We continue fighting alongside them to see they are paid properly as well as put an end to unfair labor practices and retaliation tactics. These tactics are not only illegal, but inhumane,” said Kevin Brown, who is the executive vice president and the NJ state director of 32BJ SEIU, a workers union group of two New York City unions of building service workers.

“The passage of the Healthy Terminals Act has greatly improved the working conditions for the predominantly Black and immigrant workers at the airport, who have been on the front lines of the pandemic since day one and have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brown.

City of Newark Council President Lamonica McIver, City of Newark Councilman Luis Quintana, City of Newark Councilman Patrick Council and community allies are expected to attend the strike later today in support of the union workers.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Jordan Coll can be reached at jcoll@hudsonreporter.com.

Jordan Coll, Staff Writer
Jordan Coll, Staff Writer
Jordan Coll, is a journalist who currently lives in Jersey City. He graduated with a degree in journalism at Florida International University and is pursuing his masters at Columbia University School of Journalism.
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