Jet Blue's Blues Keep on Coming

Airline's latest woe comes from a large NY-based union

NEW YORK, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- More bad news is scheduled to arrive for Jet Blue on Thursday when one of the country's largest private sector unions launches a multi-media ad campaign challenging the airline's continued use of a questionable security contractor at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York.

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"Failing to raise security standards at airports after 9/11 is irresponsible and unacceptable," said Local 32BJ Executive Vice President Kevin Doyle . "Jet Blue should do right by public safety by using a contractor that upholds the highest standards."

The union's ad campaign focuses on Jet Blue's security contractor, Summit Security, which employs some eighty security officers at Jet Blue's hub at JFK in New York. Summit security officers at JFK get paid about $10 an hour and receive minimal benefits and training. New York State requires just 16 hours of pre-employment security training for security officers.

"To neglect security officers after 9/11 is an outrage," said Edwards Winslow, Summit Security Officer at JFK. "But to neglect security officers at JFK airport is shocking."

In a letter dated October 22, 2007 to Jet Blue CEO David Barger , Local 32BJ expressed concerns about Summit Security's tainted track record - including a 2002 Department of State audit showing Summit employed unregistered security officers. The letter also flags a case involving four women who approached the New York Post in February with sexual harassment claims by Summit and Summit clients. In addition, the National Labor Relations Board is investigating charges that Summit supervisors at Fordham University, a Summit client, illegally retaliated against a Summit officer for his union activity.

With no response from Jet Blue to the letter, an announcement has been scheduled in New York for Thursday morning at 11:00 a.m. (EST ). The union's ad campaign is expected to include broadcast, Internet and billboard ads as well as ads in more than 1,000 New York City cabs.

"Summit Security has stubbornly resisted Local 32BJ's citywide campaign to raise industry standards -- a campaign supported by responsible business leaders and many elected officials," said Doyle. "Together with our partners in the real estate community, we launched the New York Safe and Secure program, a 40-hour training course for security officers in commercial office buildings that has been endorsed by Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly."

Local 32BJ, which represents more than 7,000 security officers in New York City and Washington, D.C., is part of the larger Service Employees International Union (SEIU). SEIU is the largest security union in the country with more than 50,000 security officers, including 25,000 who work for private security companies.