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Unions struggle over JetBlue security guards

Two union locals are fighting for the right to represent security guards in the metropolitan area, and the latest battleground is JetBlue Airways Corp., the discount carrier based in Forest Hills.

Local 32BJ of the giant Service Employees International Union is going head to head with Allied International Union of Garden City to represent security guards at JetBlue’s Kennedy Airport operation

Allied International already represents the JetBlue guards, but Local 32BJ is pushing to replace Allied.

The guards are employed by Summit Security Services Inc., and Local 32BJ said they “earn low wages” and have “crummy benefits.” Local 32BJ says it can do better.

Kevin Doyle, Local 32BJ’s executive director, sent a letter in late October to David Barger, JetBlue’s chief executive officer, complaining about Summit, charging the company has “a poor record” representing employees. “JetBlue uses a security contractor we are not enamored with,” said Matt Nerzin, a Local 32BJ spokesman.

Local 32BJ attempted last week to have billboards criticizing Summit placed at the Midtown tunnel in Queens and at JFK, but was rebuffed by two construction companies.

One of them, City Outdoor, said in a letter last week to Local 32BJ that it is “company policy not to display and type of advertising that bashes, is derogatory to a group or competitor, demeans or draws attention to faults of another party.”

Allied International has defended itself in a letter on its website that was initially sent to the student newspaper at Fordham University, where Allied represents security guards. Allied said a story that appeared in the student paper about Allied was “a propaganda piece” with information provided “from a 32BJ brochure.”

“Most of the security officers working at Fordham University have withdrawn support of 32BJ, and have declared their continued support” of Allied, the letter says.

For its part, Summit said Local 32BJ’s “campaign” is “an effort to discredit our company and coerce our already unionized employees” to join Local 32BJ.

JetBlue appeared to want to distance itself from the dispute.

"JetBlue’s business relationship with Summit Security is professional in nature and it would be inappropriate to comment upon any internal labor issues that may exist between Local 32BJ and Summit management,” JetBlue said in a statement.

--Jim Bernstein


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