Alessandra Biaggi

July 22, 2020

New York State Senate passes bill to allow a supplemental wage benefit for tens of thousands of airport workers to acquire healthcare

ALBANY, NY – Today, July 22nd, the New York State Senate passed State Senator Alessandra Biaggi’s legislation (S6266D) to add covered airport workers to the New York State Building Service Prevailing Wage Law. The bill will allow over 25,000 airport workers, including those who work for subcontractors, at John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and New York Stewart International Airport access to a supplemental wage benefit to acquire healthcare. The passage of the Healthy Terminals Act comes after more than a year of advocacy.

State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx/Westchester) issued the following statement:

“The passage of the Healthy Terminals Act is fueled by the tireless organizing and strength of essential airport workers, labor advocates, immigrants, and working families.

Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman and I introduced this bill well before the arrival of COVID-19, because it should not take a pandemic for us to value workers’ lives and fulfill their right to healthcare. 

This pandemic has made it tragically clear just how important it is to guarantee healthcare coverage for all New Yorkers, especially those at high-risk of exposure like our frontline airport workers. We have told airport workers that they are essential and must continue to report to work throughout this pandemic, yet so many have lacked the protection they need to keep themselves, their families, and passengers safe. COVID-19 has taken the lives of at least 26 airport workers serving our state, and has infected countless others. It is harrowing to think how many lives could have been saved if our airport workers had had access to the affordable healthcare they needed. Our essential workers should never have to fear the cost of seeking medical attention.

By enacting the Healthy Terminals Act, we can provide tens of thousands of airport workers, including those who work for subcontractors, with the ability to purchase health insurance without falling into poverty. It is paramount that those we ask to show up for New Yorkers on a daily basis have access to the preventative and curative care they need to protect themselves on the job.

We have chosen to dedicate this bill to Leland Jordan. Leland was a baggage handler at JFK airport, and one of the first airport workers serving New Yorkers to die from COVID-19. We will never be able to erase the pain and impact of losing Leland. But what we can do is everything in our power to protect his colleagues and their families from the same hardship and loss, by providing our essential airport workers with the healthcare coverage they need to live full and healthy lives.

I extend my deepest gratitude to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman, and 32BJ SEIU for their partnership to move this bill forward.”