Through the frigid temperatures, the Big Apple joined Monday’s nationwide day of action celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and also called for justice and equality for airport workers.
Contracted workers at airports in 10 cities throughout the country — including Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, and Washington D.C. — marched and called for a $15 hourly wage and union rights.
In New York, workers from LaGuardia and JFK International airports were joined by elected officials, religious leaders and community members as they marched to LaGuardia Airport, blocking an entrance to a terminal.
A total of 25 people were arrested by Monday afternoon in New York, while others were also arrested in the other cities.
“I put my body on the line because airport workers here in New York and around the country deserve better. We need to be able to take care of our families. We need $15,” said Jean Timmer, a cabin cleaner for JetBlue’s subcontractor Ultimate Aircraft at JFK International Airport.
The march aimed to continue on the legacy of King, who in 1963 on his march on Washington D.C demanded the minimum wage be raised to $2 an hour. According to 32BJ SEUI, the union representing the airport workers, adjusted inflation makes the $2 equal to $15.51 today.
The union pointed out that although the aviation industry is generating close to $8 billion in profits, contracted airport workers are “still paid so little that they can’t make ends meet.”
Many of the workers have to rely on public assistance even though they work full-time jobs, according to the union.
“We must reclaim the dream that Dr. King laid out for our country, a dream that included fair treatment and fair pay for hard-toiling American labor,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said. “I stand with the airport workers in New York City and across America that are exercising their rights to fight for the dignity and respect that everyone deserves. When they soar, we all soar.”