LaGuardia Airport workers rally for higher pay and benefits

Art McFarland reports from East Elmhurst.
January 20, 2014 3:36:30 PM PST
Hundreds of workers at LaGuardia Airport engaged in civil obedience Monday to mark the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Workers blocked the bridge leading to LaGuardia as part of a rally for higher pay and benefits.

The airport contract workers also want the Port Authority to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a paid holiday.

The Port Authority says it is working on the issue.

Dozens of people were arrested during the demonstration, including Rep. Charles Rangel of Harlem.

"I'm a single mother with two kids. Nobody these days can live under a wage of 8 dollars an hour," said airport worker Wendy Arellano.

Before the arrests, the emotional rally called on the Port Authority and federal officials to add higher wages and benefits to the lives of workers who clean aircraft and airport facilities.

"No benefits, no health, no dental, no sick days, no vacation. I'm on public assistance," said airport worker Andrew Lloyd.

It was very much like this when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the many civil rights marches. These protestors feel they are doing what Dr. King would do, and for some of the same reasons.

Protestors feel this was just the right day for the civil disobedience of blocking the bridge.

"We should be able to have paid sick days and certainly to enjoy Dr. Martin Luther King's holidays," said Rangel.

Shareeka Elliott says she left her two kids with her mother, as she went off to jail

"Fighting for my rights. Dr. King says you die as soon as you stop fighting for things that matter," said Elliott.

The Port Authoritiy points out many of its own workers have the holiday off and says it supports the idea for the protesting workers employed by outside contractors. Negotiations are said to be underway.