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Six people were arrested Monday during a protest at Logan Airport that called for higher wages for aviation workers.
Airport employees, among them members of their union, were joined by supporters in a protest a few hundred strong in support of a $15 wage and union rights. It began in East Boston Memorial Park and ended at the nearby Terminal E, where six were arrested.
“Today we are celebrating what has been a 50 year fight for justice from the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King,” said Roxana Rivera, Boston’s vice president of the Service Employees International Union, who was among the six taken from the terminal in zip ties. “We are marching to say to Logan Airport that it is a disgrace to say that workers who work at Logan Airport still earn poverty wages.”
Similar protests were held in nine other cities.
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In a pre-march speech, she called on the airport to find service contractors that pay their workers more than the $11 minimum allowed by the Massachusetts Port Authority.
At the terminal, Rivera was joined by union members and community organizers who kneeled down behind a sign that read “Good Jobs, Strong Communities” and shouted “Yes we can!” and “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Poverty wages got to go!” before they were taken into custody.
Organizers had said previously they were prepared to be arrested by over-staying their allotted time to protest inside the airport.
The protest came on Martin Luther King Day, and many protestors wore signs featuring an image of king next to an airplane and the hashtag #PovertyDoesntFly.
Chelsea City Councilor DamaliVidot, who spoke to the swarm of press there at the terminal, said airport workers need “respect” and a living wage.
Airport contract worker Jonathan Cornier, 24, was one of the several hundred protestors. He said his wage of $11 an hour as a contractor isn’t enough for the amount of responsibility he has at the airport: everything from working security to wheelchair service and cleaning aircraft.
“Security is a big thing. You don’t want someone coming in with a bomb and blowing up the airport because people aren’t vigilant, you know?” Cornier said.
He said he and other contractors want to unionize to be able to negotiate with their employers – that and protest to get their message to those in power in government and the workplace.
“There’s only one way and that’s fighting for it,” Cornier said.
Staretha Strickland, a caterer, mom of two and grassroots organizer for Jobs for Justice, doesn’t work at Logan but said she came out to demonstrate in support of friends in low-wage jobs.
“We shouldn’t’ have to depend on the state to survive when we’re working 40 hours a week,” Strickland said. “It’s the same thing Dr. King was dreaming for, for us all to be one. Fair wages, equal opportunity for everyone.”