Fighting nationally and locally, 32BJ President Hector Figueroa spoke out on behalf of Temporary Protected Status for Haitians and for new legislation in New Jersey that would increase wages for airport workers.
Earlier this month, several elected officials, labor leaders and community groups rallied at Foley Square to extend TPS for Haitians. Now, DC37 has come to the forefront.
“Haiti is still struggling to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Mathew and will need more time to recover,” stated Figueroa. “The U.N. estimates at least 1.4 million Haitians are now in need of urgent assistance as clean water, food and medicine are in short supply, and a cholera outbreak, described as the worst epidemic of cholera in recent history, is still ongoing.”
Back in April, the AmNews reported that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director James McCament wrote a letter declaring Haiti’s conditions had improved enough to recommend ending TPS for Haitians. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, then President Barack Obama instituted TPS for Haitians, which was extended several times. The latest extension expires in late July. It was announced this week that TPS would be extended for another six months.
Garrido said there’s bipartisan support for TPS for Haitians to go beyond the six-month period that could avoid destabilizing families and communities. He said it’s in the national interest to extend TPS for Haitians beyond this six-month limit.
“Haitian TPS holders contribute $280 million to the U.S. GDP and $42 million to Social Security and to Medicare each year,” stated Figueroa. “More than one in five Haitian TPS holders are parents of U.S.-born American children. They are hardworking people making substantial contributions to our country and keeping Haiti as stable as possible as the country rebuilds. According to a February 2016 report, remittances to Haiti exceeded $2 billion—22.7 percent of Haiti’s GDP.”
In other 32BJ news, Figueroa has joined forces with airport workers, New Jersey elected officials and U.S. Senator Cory Booker to call on Newark Airport to stop paying poverty wages to its employees. Booker recently sent a letter to the top 10 airline executives calling for them to raise the pay of subcontracted airport workers and provide them with health and dental benefits.
“Improving pay and basic protections for our airport workers is plainly the fair and just thing to do,” said Booker in a statement.
New York State has a higher minimum wage, so LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airport workers make more money than Newark Airport workers. Newark Airport employees earn $10.20 an hour, which translates to $22,000 a year, less than the federal poverty level for a family of four. New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto has called for government support of the Safe Transportation Jobs and Fair Employment Rules, or STAFER, Act, which would require that subcontracted airport, ferry and train workers receive the same benefits as “government contracted unarmed security officers.”
Figueroa supports the STAFER Act and also supports urging airline executives to do right by their workers.
“When airlines put profits first, passengers and workers suffer,” said Figueroa, in a statement. “United and other airlines need to invest in human capital—the subcontracted airport workers who service their passengers, clean their planes and help the airlines rake in record profits.”