New York airport workers honored Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by engaging in the same type of work he was doing before he died: demanding better wages and conditions for workers. The airport workers blocked the bridge leading to LaGuardia Airport in an act of civil disobedience. Several protesters were arrested.
About 12,000 workers at New York-area airports are employees of private contractors who bid for contracts for security, cleaning and other work. The result of the bidding system is low wages and few benefits. Michael Carey, a 47-year-old security guard at Kennedy Airport, is the father of three children. At an earlier rally, he said he is paid $8.50 per hour and cannot support his family on that salary.
The workers said they are also shortchanged on benefits. Among other injustices, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not a paid holiday for the workers. The protesters said that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees area airports, should mandate a living wage and health benefits for workers.