Airport wheelchair agents will get less than minimum wage, contractor tells workers

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiKATHY KMONICEK FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Air Serv, an Atlanta-based company, tells its workers at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports — who were reclassified as tip-wage positions — that their pay will remain at $7.25 an hour. That was a day after New York raised its minimum wage to $8 an hour.

Airport wheelchair agents, who push injured, sick and elderly passengers through the terminals, have been reclassified as tip-wage positions, which allows their contractor to pay them less than mimimum wage. But they say they make peanuts in tips.

You want to get paid the minimum wage? Tough.

That was the message private contractor Air Serv sent its airport wheelchair agents in a Dec. 30 memo obtained by the Daily News.

A day before the statewide minimum wage rose to $8 an hour, Air Serv told its wheelchair workers at Kennedy Airport their pay will remain at $7.25 an hour.

The Atlanta-based company is skirting the law by reclassifying the wheelchair agents as tip-wage positions.

State law allows for service workers in the hospitality industry who rely on tips — such as hotel valets — to be paid a minimum of $5.65 an hour.

But airport wheelchair agents — who are responsible for pushing injured, sick and elderly passengers through the terminals — say they make peanuts in tips.

The website of Atlanta-based Air Serv, which told its wheelchair workers at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports their pay will remain at $7.25 an hour.WWW.AIRSERVCORP.COM

The website of Atlanta-based Air Serv, which told its wheelchair workers at Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports their pay will remain at $7.25 an hour.

“Most people don’t tip,” said Air Serv wheelchair pusher Denise Brown, 28, who works at Kennedy Airport.

“They think this is a service that the airline provides. They think that if they paid the airlines a certain amount, why do they have to tip us?”

On her best days, Brown will bring in $50 in tips. But she usually goes home with somewhere between $5 and $15.

“We don’t earn money through our tips,” said Brown, who lives with her family in Springfield Gardens, Queens.

“There are days where you don’t make nothing.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiBRYAN PACE FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

‘Most people don’t tip,’ said Air Serv wheelchair pusher Denise Brown, 28, who works at Kennedy Airport.

Air Serv, which reported operating profits of $119 million last year, told workers it had no choice.

“This was an extremely tough decision, and we understand the impact this will have on you and your family,” reads the memo signed by general manager Robert Sagginario.

“However, please know that we considered several other alternatives, and the choice we made is the best option at this time and will have the least impact on our employees overall.”

That explanation incensed workers like Brown.

With her measly pay, she often struggles to come up with the $100 she pays her mother in rent every two weeks.

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