UNITE HERE: NY Elected Officials Speak Out in Opposition to Airport Developer AIRMALL USA

German-owned company being considered by JetBlue for Terminal 5 redevelopment contract

Feb 11, 2016, 09:00 ET from UNITE HERE

NEW YORK, Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a letter released Monday, 13 of New York's elected officials and community groups expressed their concern over AIRMALL USA, a company currently being considered by JetBlue to develop, manage and operate food and beverage and retail concessions at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Terminal 5.

The letter, addressed to JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, highlights AIRMALL's track record at BWI Airport, one of only four U.S. airports operated by the German-owned developer. In particular, the letter references findings of racial inequality in job classifications and low wages in concessions jobs offered by AIRMALL's BWI subtenants, including:

  • A March 2014 survey of 437 out of approximately 800 employees of AIRMALL's subtenants conducted by UNITE HERE showed that under AIRMALL's concessions at BWI, surveyed African-American workers were six times more likely than surveyed white workers to work fast food jobs while surveyed white workers were six times more likely than surveyed African-Americans to work as bartenders or servers, and
  • A 2013/2014 survey by UNITE HERE of 180 BWI concessions workers revealed a median wage of $8.50 per hour.

"It is very concerning to me that a company with such a track record might be in consideration to manage the concessions program for an entire terminal at JFK," said New York State Senator James Sanders, Jr. (D-10th Senate District), "New Yorkers deserve equal opportunities and decent wages.  To award such an important contract to a company that has failed to seriously address real problems at one of its current contracts is troubling."

Current airport workers and their allies have been handing out educational leaflets at both JFK and at JetBlue's Queens headquarters.  A public action is planned for February 17 and will include participants from Baltimore.

"New York's immigrant communities deserve fair wages and equitable working environments," said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "New York would be taking a step backwards by rewarding a company like AIRMALL. New Yorkers, including immigrant workers, deserve better." 

UNITE HERE is a union with over 270,000 members in the U.S. and Canada, including 27,000 airline catering and concessions workers.  It represents nearly 12,000 airline catering workers, employees of Gate Gourmet, Flying Food Group and LSG Sky Chefs.