Port Authority Announces $19 Minimum Wage for Airport Workers by 2023

On September 27, 2018, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (“Port Authority”) announced a board-approved plan to increase the minimum wage of workers at John F. Kennedy International (“JFK”) and LaGuardia airports in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport (“Newark”) in New Jersey to $19 per hour by the year 2023.

The plan, which the Port Authority Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted, will affect approximately 40,000 workers. It is a result of vast labor union lobbying efforts to increase wages for airport baggage handlers, aircraft and terminal cleaners, security officers, wheelchair agents, and other workers, and will result in the highest minimum wage in the country.

Port Authority Chairman, Kevin O’Toole, stated, “Today’s actions will not only make a difference in the lives of airport workers but will enhance security and improve customer service at all of our facilities.”

The plan is staggered, bumping Newark employees from their current $10.45 per hour to $12.45 by November 1, 2018, and to $15.60 by September 1, 2019. Workers at JFK and LaGuardia will see wage increases pursuant to New York State minimum wage legislation to $15 by January 1, 2019. The plan then provides for all airport employees to make $16.20 by 2020, $17 by 2021, $18 by 2022, and $19 by 2023.

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, commented on the deal, stating that “[w]hile Washington does everything it can to chop away at workers’ rights, New York continues to lead the way forward by raising the minimum wage to $15 and fighting to ensure airport workers earn a decent living…This campaign is about respect and paying a fair living wage for honest work in an industry that depends on its employees to safely operate some of the most important public facilities in our nation – our airports. In New York, we stand with workers and we will always serve as a beacon of progress and opportunity for all.”

New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, added, “With today’s vote, the agency has made it clear that they have heard the voices of approximately 40,000 airport workers who will be impacted by increased wages on both sides of the Hudson. While the Port Authority’s decision to boost wages for workers is an important step toward a stronger and fairer economy that works for everyone, we cannot give up until all of New Jersey’s workers earn a living wage.”

Port Authority expects the plan to benefit the public by decreasing instances of staff turnover. The higher compensation will motivate its experienced and well-trained employees in their duties to identify security issues, operate equipment safely, provide customer service, and respond to emergencies.

Port Authority’s Executive Director, Rick Cotton, explained that Port Authority’s efficient and safe operation of the airports “hinges on a stable, motivated, engaged workforce which can enhance overall security efforts and assist customers in an experienced, knowledgeable and positive fashion…We believe this substantially improved minimum wage for airport workers will greatly reduce turnover, improve morale, and develop better trained workers as critical contributors to airport operations and security in this post 9/11 world.”

The legal team at Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP (“SFMS”) has significant experience litigating employment matters. If you have any questions regarding this subject or this posting, please contact Nick Lussier (nlussier@sfmslaw.com) or Chiharu Sekino (csekino@sfmslaw.com). We can also be reached toll-free at (866) 540-5505.

SFMS is a nationwide law firm with offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. SFMS is an active member of Integrated Advisory Group (www.iaginternational.org), which provides us with the ability to provide our clients with access to excellent legal and accounting resources throughout the globe. For more information about SFMS, please visit us at www.sfmslaw.com.


Chiem, Linda. “Port Authority Oks $19 Minimum Wage For Airport Workers.” Law 360. Last modified on September 27, 2018.

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