Port Authority workers stage LaGuardia Airport sit-in for Martin Luther King Jr. Day as paid time off

Council Member Daneek Miller is arrested during a protest at LaGuardia Airport Monday. Credit: William Alatriste/New York City Council
Council Member Daneek Miller is arrested during a protest at LaGuardia Airport Monday.
Credit: William Alatriste/New York City Council

Nearly 1,000 people blocked a bridge to LaGuardia Airport during a sit-in for workers’ rights Monday afternoon.

Workers, community leaders and elected officials occupied the 94th Street bridge to the airport for several hours, rallying for “economic justice” and for Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be a paid holiday.

“Martin Luther King lived his life in support of workers rights,” said Prince Jackson, a 56-year-old security guard at Kennedy Airport and member of 32BJ SEIU, which supports the workers.

“He was a very good friend to the workers of America and I’m very pleased and honored to take part in this demonstration to show our support for everything he did,” Jackson said.

In acts of civil disobedience, 32 people were arrested during the protest, including nine council members, two assemblymen and Rep. Charles Rangel.

The demonstration was organized after the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was asked last month to make Monday a paid holiday for contracted passenger service workers at LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark Airports. Airlines refused, according to 32BJ.

In a statement, the Port Authority said it will continue discussions with the union, airlines and other stakeholders.

“The Port Authority supports making Martin Luther King Day a paid holiday for airport workers as it is for New York, New Jersey and Port Authority employees,” the authority said.

Still, Jackson said that the demonstration isn’t just about getting the holiday off.

“We’re trying to raise our standards — higher pay, affordable health care and paid sick days,” said the Jamaica, Queens, resident, who makes $8 an hour.

Jackson, an overnight guard, worked Sunday before the protest and was on-duty again Monday night.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders


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