NEWARK, NJ — New legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday will expand access to livable wages and affordable health care for Newark Liberty International Airport workers.
The Healthy Terminals Act signed into law by Murphy creates new minimum wage and benefits requirements for certain Newark airport and Newark Liberty International Train Station workers who often can’t afford employer-provided health care plans.
“For a long time, we have heard the concerns and often desperate pleas from airport workers for access to affordable health care and for wages that allow them to support themselves and their families,” Murphy said. “These men and women have selflessly been serving through the COVID-19 pandemic as critical infrastructure workers, and I am proud to sign this legislation that will finally provide them with the health care and compensation that they need and have fought for.”
The law will reach more than 10,000 employees at the Newark airport, including baggage handlers, guards and food service workers.
It will also require covered airport and train station employees to be paid wage rates that are at least the wages set under the federal prevailing wage law for building service employees. The bill further requires supplemental benefits equal to those designated by the Commissioner of Labor.
After Sept. 1, 2021, and every year thereafter, the prevailing wage rate applicable to a covered employee may not be less than any minimum wage rate established through a policy of the Port Authority and the amount of wages or supplements equal to the rate designated by the Commissioner of Labor.
“It's good for workers, it's good for passengers and it's good for the airlines," said Kevin Brown, vice president and New Jersey Director for SEIU 32BJ. "When we invest in the workforce that fuels one of New Jersey’s largest economies, we have healthier people and a healthier airport. Making this a reality in New Jersey is a great milestone in the fight for justice and equality.”
Assemblywoman Shanique Speight (D-Newark) was one of the primary sponsors for the new legislation. Other sponsors included Sens. Loretta Weinberg, Linda Greenstein and Steve Sweeney, and Assembly members Annette Quijano, Daniel Benson, and Joseph Egan.