Just in time for Christmas, security guards at JFK Airport are threatening to walk off their jobs and create a holiday nightmare for travelers.
The 300 workers, employed by two private companies, do several key jobs.
Most importantly, they inspect planes takeoff, looking for weapons, explosives and contraband.
They also check out maintenance crews, mechanics and caterers who board the aircraft.
Others direct traffic in front of the terminals and check that gates leading to the tarmac are secure.
The guards, who are not in a union, say they want better training and equipment.
If they strike, company managers could replace some of them.
Port Authority cops might also be assigned some duties, like traffic control. But the unionized police officers would not be asked to inspect aircraft, a source said.
Another problem would be getting replacement workers “Secure Identity Display Areas’’ credentials. That can take weeks because background and fingerprint checks are required.
If the workers strike, planes would stay on the ground much longer, throwing off schedules and causing delays at destination cities. On the ground, the confusion could make it difficult for travelers to get to their gates.
The workers will vote tomorrow, and are expected to authorize a strike starting Dec. 20.
About 200 guards work for Air Serve; the others are employed by Global Elite Group.
They’ve filed several dozen grievances with the Transportation Security Administration, claiming management failed to provide them with training and gear, such as functioning two-way radios or security wands.
They say they’ve been forced to rely on their own cellphones and stick to unrealistic “productivity’’ schedules.
“These security officers feel responsible for the safety and security at JFK Airport. They feel it is their duty to bring attention to these gaping holes in preparedness and safety standards,” said Michael Allen, a spokesman for Service Employees International Union, which is advising them.
He claimed management “retaliated against workers for speaking out.”
Air Serve did not return a call for comment, and a Global official said the firm has no knowledge of a threatened walkout.
Port Authority spokeswoman Lisa MacSpadden did not return calls for comment, but a senior PA official told The Post a strike could be a “challenge.’’
Source: NY Post