FILE - Cars on the Grand Central Parkway pass LaGuardia Airport in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
FILE – Cars on the Grand Central Parkway pass LaGuardia Airport in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


New York –  Some security workers and baggage handlers at New York’s John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports plan to strike starting on Wednesday night, their union said on Tuesday, potentially affecting travelers and airline operations.

Workers employed by Command Security Corp’s subsidiary Aviation Safeguards, who also include wheelchair attendants, have voted to strike starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday, the service workers union 32BJ SEIU said in a statement. They say the employer has threatened to fire them for organizing for higher wages and benefits.

Delta Air Lines Inc, which contracts Aviation Safeguards according to the union, said it would be “taking measures to ensure that our more than 35,000 customers booked through LaGuardia on Thursday are not affected.”

A spokesman for United Continental Holdings Inc, which also operates in at least one terminal using Aviation Safeguards’ services, said the carrier has contingency plans in place.

Aviation Safeguards could not immediately be reached for comment.

Aviation industry consultant Robert Mann said Delta could see a slight effect on revenue from the walkout if business travelers rebook to airlines less reliant on Aviation Safeguards.

“I wouldn’t call it significant,” he said. “It would be along the lines of a localized weather event.”

The union said Aviation Safeguards has misrepresented the rights of its workers and stopped them from wearing buttons that express their sympathies.

“While the airlines have been making record profits and the Port Authority has approved billions of dollars to modernize LaGuardia airport, the airport workers who make these profits possible are struggling to survive,” the union said.

The Port Authority said in a statement that the agency “has taken significant steps in recent years to encourage wage and benefit increases for employees of airline contractors at its airports.”

The Port Authority, which operates both JFK and LaGuardia, added that it will try to avoid disruptions stemming from the strike.

Command Security’s Chief Executive Officer Craig Coy called the allegations false in an interview with Bloomberg News. He said the company is not anti-union and has not broken the law.

Still, Mann said the demands of lower wage workers could loom as a growing issue for the industry.

“Living wage is a huge issue at the level of the thousands of employees that do this sort of work,” he said.

Some 1,000 airport contractors will strike, according to media reports. Those who are security workers perform different duties than those employed by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

As reported by Vos Iz Neias